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Australian Democrats tell govt to listen more to doctors

15 March, 2007

The Australian Democrats have thrown their support behind the AMA's Federal Budget Submission released recently.

The AMA's submission has called for the implementation of voluntary bonded scholarships for rural doctors and for more money for public hospitals.

"Voluntary bonded scholarships can play an important role in increasing the numbers of rural doctors and I call on the Government to implement such a scheme," said Senator Meg Lees, Leader of the Australian Democrats.

"It is also important to recognise the shortage of nurses and allied health professionals in rural Australia and to develop similar strategies to attract these practitioners.

The Democrats also support the AMA's call for an increase of 8% a year in public hospital funding.

"Our public hospital infrastructure is ageing, people are waiting far too long for operations and public hospital staff are over-worked and stressed," said Senator Lees.

"This increase in funding could easily be met through means testing the private health insurance rebate. This would save about $1 billion a year for public hospitals, community care of older Australians and public dental services.

The Democrats also called on the Government to respond to the AMA's calls for an increase in funding for Indigenous health.

"Indigenous Australians are still dying 15 to 20 years earlier than non-Indigenous Australians. The Government must address this critical issue with increased funding for community controlled health services within Indigenous communities," said Senator Lees.