It is about time for both fed and state govts to "fix health" :AMA

18 December, 2007

AMA (WA) says Federal Labor's election victory should put an end to the blame game between the State and Commonwealth and enable both governments to set about solving the major problems ravaging WA's public hospitals.

"Kevin Rudd and Health Minister Jim McGinty should get together as soon as possible and decide how they can provide more hospital beds and reduce waiting times for elective surgery," said association President Prof Geoff Dobb.

"WA needs at least 400 more beds to enable our hospitals to operate on the recommended safe occupancy level of 85 per cent - and that requires a commitment for considerable funding and resources from both governments.

"Earlier this month McGinty said WA did not receive its fair share of Commonwealth funding from Medicare and the State would seek to "fix this historical imbalance".

"As the WA Government has been promising to fix health for six years, perhaps now some real progress can be made by the State and Federal Government having urgent and constructive talks and not blaming each other for the existing problems."

Prof Dobb said the AMA (WA) would also be seeking assurance from the Rudd Government that there would be a significant investment in training infrastructure and teaching.

"There's been a decision to double the number of medical students, but we must ensure that in providing students and graduates with further training they receive a comprehensive education," said Prof Dobb.

"The shortage of doctors is a critical issue and until it's fixed our health system will struggle to deliver the high standard of care the community deserves."

Prof Dobb said while the AMA was not in favour of the broad concept of "Super Clinics", the association was encouraged by some elements of Labor's policy to include provision for GP practices to seek funding support for clinical training facilities for medical students, prevocational doctors and GP registrars.

"We strongly support investment in existing General Practice and do not want the present system to be eroded," he said.

Prof Dobb said the medical profession also urged the new Labor Government to develop, on a cooperative basis, a fair and appropriate system of national recognition of State medical registration.

"The main objective should be to provide improved mobility for doctors as well as quality patient care," he said.

"We encourage the new Federal Health Minister to work with the AMA to help restore and improve Australia's public health system standards so that every person, regardless of their circumstances, gets an appropriate level of care."