AMA urges govt to bring aged care out of policy inertia zone

26 June, 2008

The Australian Medical Association has urged the Government to address the policy inertia that continued to restrict medical services for the care of sick and frail residents of aged care homes.

AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, warned that GP services to residents in aged care homes were under growing pressure.

She said GPs were continually frustrated by the barriers that prevented constant medical care from being delivered to residents of aged care homes.

As part of General Practice Week, the peak medical body is calling for the Federal Government to bring aged care out of the ‘policy inertia zone’ as the medical needs of older Australians became more complex and numerous.

“Successive governments have done little to actively involve medical care in the daily operations of aged care homes – it’s time for the Government to take action,” Dr Capolingua said.

“We need to see policies that will effectively bring medical care to frail and sick residents in a timely and suitable manner.

“Older Australians should continue to have access to a range of quality medical services - as it’s a time in their lives when they need them most.”

The AMA is calling for aged care policies that:

• Introduce dedicated Medicare payments that improve access to GPs and medical specialists for older Australians;

• Enable more GPs to use general practice nurses to assist in the delivery of care in residential and community settings;

• Increase recurrent funding for community and residential aged care to meet the real costs of care;

• Adopt strategies that lead to wage parity between the acute and aged care sectors to encourage skilled nurses back into the sector with the capacity to deliver quality aged care services; and

• Improve clinical management and the delivery of care in the residential aged care sector by introducing computer systems that facilitate medical records and prescribing, and which connect the GP to the residential aged care facility and the pharmacy.