AMA calls on Government to strengthen its COVID-19 response

3 Jun 2021

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid has written to Health Minister Greg Hunt expressing the AMA’s increasing concerns with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The letter called for increased funding for GPs administering vaccines, a deadline of 30 June for the completion of the 1A COVID-19 vaccination rollout, and supported the mandatory vaccination of aged care workers. 

Dr Khorshid said that the Government needs to provide GPs with the funding support to provide advice and support to vaccine hesitant patients. “These patients require more time with their GP; however, the current Medicare structure only supports very short consultations. This is discouraging patients and GPs alike and slowing down our roll out through general practice.” 

Dr Khorshid also expressed disappointment that the Department of Health was unable to confirm how many workers in aged care had received a first vaccination shot.  

The letter to Minister Hunt says that urgent measures were needed in response to the pandemic, including a Commonwealth program to support businesses and workers in lockdown. 

“No state or territory should be put in the very difficult situation of having to choose between a necessary public health response and disrupting lives and livelihoods in the absence of sufficient Commonwealth support,” Dr Khorshid said. 

“While New Zealand ended its general wage subsidies some time ago, it has recognised that COVID-19 is an ever-present risk by implementing a COVID-19 Resurgence Payment Scheme. This scheme is initiated when New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert system is elevated.  

“We think a similar scheme could be put in place by the Commonwealth to support our public health efforts in fighting COVID-19 and to give businesses and workers the certainty they need.” 

The AMA is concerned that Australia is still vulnerable to a large-scale outbreak. The measures outlined in the letter will help prevent this. 

“The changes the AMA is calling for will ensure our most vulnerable populations are better protected from COVID-19 and will encourage more Australians to get vaccinated. Until around 80% of the population is vaccinated, further restrictions and lockdowns are inevitable,” Dr Khorshid said.