‘Woefully inadequate’ funding for GPs in aged care: AMA

3 minute read

The AMA Queensland has called on the state’s government for urgent aged and end-of-life care investment, and to reveal where the $171 million promised in 2022-23 was spent.

The AMA Queensland has called on the state’s government to urgently increase aged care funding for GPs and improve accessibility, including for VAD services. 

Ahead of the state’s June budget announcement, the AMA Queensland has renewed calls from it 2024-25 budget submission for increased investment into aged care.  

“We are calling for increased investment in aged care, particularly to support GPs and other doctors who continue to dedicate themselves to these patients despite woefully inadequate funding from both the state and federal governments,” said AMA Queensland president Dr Maria Boulton. 

“Access to palliative care services must be expanded. 

“This includes increasing the eligibility access period from the current three months to 12 months and expanding the Medical Aids Subsidy Scheme to include the last 12 months of life, not six as present.” 

Investments into palliative care must also include VAD services, said Dr Boulton. 

“There is a significant gap between supply and community demand, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities,” she said. 

“Doctors and health services need VAD-specific funding, particularly for community-based services, longer GP consultations and for practitioners to travel to outer-area patients.  

“VAD must have its own separate funding stream in the budget that does not reduce funding for other end-of-life services.” 

The association stressed that legislation preventing VAD services from being provided over the phone must be overturned. 

“This legislation, which dates back to the days of landlines and fax machines, is causing increased distress for patients living in remote areas or who are too sick to travel,” said Dr Boulton. 

“Technically, it means patients cannot even ring or email VAD support services. 

“This is a distressing and ludicrous situation that clearly must be addressed.” 

The association also called for an independent review into the use of $171 million promised to palliative care in the 2022-23 budget that, so far, remains unaccounted for. 

“While the palliative care investment promise two years ago was welcome, it is unclear what programs have been supported and how much remaining funding is yet to be allocated,” said Dr Boulton. 

“We are calling for an independent review of the rural and remote community-based palliative care services awarded by tender to deliver the $171 million. 

“The government must ensure all unallocated funds are reinvested in end-of-life care with a focus on services in First Nations communities to allow community members to die with dignity on country.” 

The 2024-25 Queensland budget is due to be delivered next month. 

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