State government heeds AMA Queensland calls

This year's state budget announcement is definitely a positive for the healthcare sector, but the devil is in the detail, AMA Queensland President Dr Nick Yim told 4BC Radio. "It's only day one of the budget announcement, but what we have seen, and we have negotiated with the Queensland Government, is that they have listened to some of AMA Queensland’s recommendations."

Transcript: AMA Queensland President, Dr Nick Yim, 4BC Radio, Drive with Peter Gleeson, Tuesday 11 June 2024

Subjects: State budget health strategy

PETER GLEESON: One of the critical issues that will frame this year's state election fight is the health crisis. The state government knows it and as reported by my 9News colleague Tim Arvier last night, today's budget reveal just how much they're willing to throw at fixing it. So, a record $4.39 billion in extra funding over the next four years dedicated to the health sector, that's up 10 per cent to $26.7 billion to be spent on the budget next year.

The devil is in the data though, the Miles government is failing on a number of key metrics. Here's what we saw in today's budget – the elective surgery patients treated on time, the goal is 98 per cent, this government have achieved 86.8 per cent. Patients off stretcher within 30 minutes, the goal is 90 per cent and they've achieved just 59.7 per cent. Emergency patient departures within four hours, the goal is 80 per cent and they've achieved 60.7 per cent. So, this has been a generational crisis, first fuelled by the failures of successive Health Ministers.

I'll tell you who the last four health ministers have been – Cameron Dick, the Treasurer; Steven Miles, the Premier; Yvette D'Ath, the current Attorney-General; and of course, Shannon Fentiman, who is now the Health Minister.

I want to bring in the newly appointed President of the Australian Medical Association Queensland Dr Nick Yim. He's on the line with me now. Dr Yim, thanks for your time.

DR NICK YIM: Good afternoon.

PETER GLEESON: What was your first reaction when you heard about this record health spend from the government?

DR NICK YIM: I think my first reaction is that it's definitely positive to see the financial investment into healthcare. AMA Queensland, we know and we hear from our patients, we hear from our members that we need a significant injection of funds into the healthcare sector. The community is crying for it, and it's definitely welcome to see that. But as you've mentioned, ultimately it comes down to – the devil is in the detail.

PETER GLEESON: We've been talking, Dr Yim, about hospital ramping, lack of doctors and resources. Now, throwing money at the solution, as you say, is a good thing, but it has to be targeted properly. Are you confident that this will get to those areas like elective surgery, ramping and emergency patient departures?

DR NICK YIM: Obviously it's only day one of the budget announcement, but what we have seen, and we have negotiated with the Queensland Government, is that they have listened to some of AMA Queensland’s recommendations. So, one of the big issues, as you mentioned, is ambulance ramping and flow through the hospital, and there has been money thrown at patient flow, which is a really positive thing. So obviously we want people entering the hospital, going through the hospital and appropriately discharged back to the appropriate location. That's a big, positive.

The other big positive we've been listening to is obviously workforce, and we've been recommending to the Queensland Government that we need incentives to compete with the other states in Australia. There has been incentive payments such as GPs for doctors who want to enter general practice training, there is a $40,000 incentive, which is a positive for Queensland.

PETER GLEESON: Yeah, I see that and I'm sure that will attract aspiring GPs to train here in 2025 and 2026. Now I want to ask you about bulk billing. I know your predecessor, Dr Maria Boulton, was very vocal about there needing to be more support to keep GPs financially viable. Where do you sit on that debate?

DR NICK YIM: Absolutely, so that messaging is still clear. I guess the Australian healthcare system is tricky – that it’s state and federal funding. I think ultimately it doesn't matter where that funding comes from, we need to ensure that patients do have access to their doctor and patients have access to their care, that's really important.

So previously payroll tax was a big issue and obviously we want to ensure that the government of the day ensures that payroll tax doesn't become an issue. At the same time, we need our state governments advocating for Queensland to the Federal Government to ensure that there is adequate Medicare rebates for patients.

PETER GLEESON: Dr Yim, before we go, given what we've seen in today's budget, are there any gaps that the LNP, David Crisafulli, Ross Bates need to address in their budget reply? Is there something in the budget reply that you'd really like to see?

DR NICK YIM: I think the key element here is that the opposition have mentioned that they are going to accept the budget. I think they need to maintain that moving forward, and ultimately, they need to ensure that they do focus on the workforce, the recruitment, the retention, and also training of their health workforce staff. We're not just talking about doctors, we're talking about all staff members. That includes your nurses, pharmacists, allied health, the wardies, and essentially the whole system needs to be working together. We need to ensure that the team is collaboratively working as opposed to fragmenting the care.

PETER GLEESON: Okay, Dr Nick Yim, thanks for joining us. Really appreciate it

DR NICK YIM: Appreciate it, have a great day.

PETER GLEESON: See you later. President of AMA Queensland Dr Nick Yim.


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