AMA urges focus on health

27 Jun 2013

The AMA views the resolution of the Labor Party’s leadership as an opportunity to sharpen the policy focus again on health issues in the lead-up to the Federal election.

The AMA notes the interest that Kevin Rudd previously showed in health reform during his first term as Prime Minister.

In his return to the Labor leadership, Kevin Rudd has indicated that he will review Government policies, and AMA Vice President Professor Geoffrey Dobb said the first decision he needs to make is to abolish the $2000 cap on tax deductions for work-related self-education expenses.

Professor Dobb said the cap was poorly conceived and would undermine the ability of doctors to undertake the training needed to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date, with consequences for the quality of care they could provide for their patients.

The AMA has been inundated with responses from thousands of doctors concerned that the cap will cripple their professional development and compromise the quality of health care.

“The cap is bad policy – it is anti-education and stifles excellence,” Professor Dobb said.

As the Rudd Government finalises its policies in the lead-up to the Federal election, the AMA is urging both major parties to address several other issues critical to quality health care.

Professor Dobb said that both Labor and the Coalition needed to outline plans to address the looming bottlenecks in the medical training pipeline that threaten to strangle the flow of new doctors into the health system.

There is mounting concern that hundreds of medical graduates and junior doctors will be denied crucial training opportunities next year and beyond because of a lack of investment by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

Professor Dobb said urgent action was also needed to better support the central role played by general practice in providing high quality health care, as well as increasing the capacity of public hospitals to meet the heavy demands being placed upon them – action that will require unprecedented cooperation between all governments.

He added that a more compassionate approach to the treatment of asylum seekers was a must, including improvements in health services for those held in immigration detention centres – particularly children.

“The AMA looks forward to a real debate from the major parties in the lead up to the election showing how they will tackle these and other pressing health issues that are vital to ensuring Australians continue to receive high quality health care,” Professor Dobb said.


27 June 2013

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