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Role of doctors in aged care workforce to be considered

27 June, 2017

The Doctor's role will be considered as part of the aged care sector workforce following ongoing lobbying by the AMA.

AMA Vice President, Dr Tony Bartone, said that the AMA was pleased to see that the Senate Community Affairs References Committee has adopted several of the AMA's recommendations to the Inquiry into the future of Australia's aged care sector workforce.

"The AMA has long argued that doctors should be regarded as an integral part of the aged care workforce, particularly in residential aged care, in the same way that medical practitioners are an integral part of the hospital workforce," Dr Bartone said.

"Doctors and other health practitioners, working as part of the general practitioner-led team, are central to the provision of quality care for older people, yet medical practitioners have traditionally not been counted as part of the aged care workforce.

"The AMA has advocated for some time to secure medical and nursing care for older Australians, particularly as the population ages.

"Older people tend to have complex and chronic health needs that need the regular attention of medical practitioners, and quality nursing care.

"GPs, as the coordinators of care, prevent more expensive downstream costs, including visits to emergency departments and hospital admissions."

The Committee has made 19 recommendations, including that the National Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce should consider the role of medical and allied health practitioners in aged care.

"There is still more work to be done, particularly around reviewing Medicare items for GP consultations with aged care residents or patients living in the community who are immobile. This would also include telehealth and after-hours access to care," Dr Bartone said.

"But the Committee's recommendations are a promising start to developing a national aged care workforce strategy."

The Report can be read at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/AgedCareWorkforce45. The AMA's submission can be read here: https://ama.com.au/submission/ama-submission-senate-community-affairs-inquiry-future-australia%E2%80%99s-aged-care-sector

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