Doctors in Queensland are urging the Albanian government to increase Medicare rebates and hold a national summit to revive healthcare systems that are no longer fit for purpose.
Public hospitals, primary care, and allied health facilities have been dealing for years with rising demand, lack of financing and procurement support, and staff shortages.
Those problems have increased further during the pandemic and with the current flu season.
The incoming president of the Australian Medical Association, Queensland, Maria Boulton, says Medicare rebates are no longer keeping up with the cost of treatment.
“Patients face paying for a gap,” Dr. Boulton told AAP in her first interview since she took on the role on Friday.
“And it’s important that we ensure that vulnerable people don’t miss anything and still have access to medical services.”
Dr. Boulton said the incoming federal health secretary should look at Medicare rebates and that convening a much-anticipated national healthcare summit is “absolutely essential.”
However, she warned that a national dialogue would only be worthwhile if governments listened to professionals and implemented their solutions.
“We’ve commented to the government about mental health, primary care, and emergency response services before, and we haven’t seen those solutions implemented yet,” the AMAQ president said.
“So when there’s a change of government, it’s always a great opportunity to build on that partnership, but we also need some action.”
On Friday, NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet urged people to stop calling ambulances for minor ailments with paramedics operating in a “constant state of crisis”.
In Queensland, nearly two in three people waited more than four hours to be admitted to the emergency room in the March quarter.
According to the same data released Thursday, the number of ambulance patients rose above 40 percent with a slope.
Dr. Boulton described Queensland’s health system as “running on fumes”.
“Without real reforms, this will not continue,” she said.
“You know, everyone or the hospitals are all working… like they’re in crisis, and you can only do that for so long.”
The state government has promised another “record health budget” next month, which is essential to keep up with inflation.
The AMAQ president said more money alone will not ease capacity pressures in Queensland, and the government should try the sector’s proposed policies.
“Of course, the (health) budget has to be bigger,” said Dr. Boulton.
“But what would be great is if they talked to the top agencies about where that money could be best spent instead of coming up with suggestions that might not work practically.”
She also said general clinics needed more support from the state and federal government with the procurement and logistics of medical supplies.
The Queensland government could also provide better incentives for people to get health professional training and work in the regions.
“We need real reforms in all areas of health care to ensure that the people of Queensland can continue to enjoy the quality care they enjoy,” added Dr. Boulton.