President and CEO update - March 2024

The first quarter of 2024 comes to an end with another win for AMA Queensland advocacy. However, we are continuing to advocate for better patient care as anticompetitive pharmacy ownership laws and expensive pharmacy prescribing pilots continue to pose a risk to patient safety and push prices up.

The first quarter of 2024 comes to an end with another win for AMA Queensland advocacy on behalf of doctors and healthcare workers through the announcement of an independent review of sexual assault policies and procedures at public hospitals. However, anticompetitive pharmacy ownership laws and expensive pharmacy prescribing pilots continue to pose a risk to patient safety and push prices up. We are continuing to advocate for better support for women’s health, workforce pressures and patient care.

Hospital sexual assault review

AMA Queensland has been advocating for action on sexual assault and harassment of hospital healthcare workers for close to a decade and welcomes the announcement of an independent review into sexual assault policies and procedures at Queensland hospitals.

The review is a welcome addition to the new laws brought in last year as a direct result of AMA Queensland advocacy, making Hospital and Health Service (HHS) boards directly responsible for promoting a safe work culture. They also follow the Sexual Harassment Summit held last year after calls from AMA Queensland.

AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton and AMA Queensland Committee of Doctors in Training (CDT) Chair Dr Elise Witter have written to all HHSs with practical measures that can be taken immediately to improve workplace safety for Queensland Health frontline workers.

The response so far has been very positive, and we look forward to continuing working with Queensland Health and individual HHSs to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our hospital workers. 

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Pharmacy ownership

The Queensland Government has ignored calls from many peak bodies, including AMA Queensland, and is pushing ahead with anti-competitive ownership laws for pharmacy businesses that will make it harder for new owners to enter the market.

We expressed particular concerns about the bill’s potential impact on access to culturally safe pharmacy services in First Nations communities. 

Despite our pleas for Aboriginal health services to be exempt from the new rules, on Tuesday 19 March Queensland Parliament passed the Pharmacy Business Ownership Bill unchanged.

The bill suggests that commercially focused pharmacy business owners know what is best for First Nations communities and entrenches outdated and anticompetitive regulations that only protect existing pharmacy owners and drive up the cost of medications. 

Worse still, it provides a vehicle in the form of a new statutory body by which existing owners can exert direct control over both new entrants to the market and their own competitors.

This bill was negotiated behind closed doors with select stakeholders bound by confidentiality agreements. We remain frustrated by the secrecy around its consultation process and have raised our concerns with the Crime and Corruption Commission.

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Pharmacy prescribing

AMA Queensland has won an assurance from Queensland Health that there will be an information campaign for doctors when the North Queensland pharmacy prescribing pilot begins.

The Chief Medical Officer has advised us that the meeting to determine the start date for the pilot will be on 25 March, with the timeline for the GP communication program to be known soon after.

Queensland Health has released more information, including the cost to patients of pharmacy consultations and medications, neither of which will be covered by Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 

It has also provided an online feedback form for patients, but it is unclear if or how that feedback will be passed on to the researchers from Deloitte in partnership with Griffith University who are evaluating the pilot.

We will continue to work with Queensland Health on collaborative care models that allow all health professionals to work as teams and prioritise patient care. 

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Women and Girls strategy

AMA Queensland provided preliminary feedback on the Queensland Government’s draft Women and Girls' Health Strategy in July 2023, raising concerns of the strategy’s failure to recognise the central role of general practice in the provision of holistic health care for women. 

The finalised strategy was recently released, but many of these concerns remain.

While welcome the State Government’s willingness to invest in primary care, the strategy is a missed opportunity to establish women’s health services by investing in nurses and social workers in existing general practices.

Women and girls still need access to medical doctors, and there is not much in this strategy that will improve that access and cut wait lists.

The $46m proposed funding could be much better invested in helping general practices have a social worker and on-site to help people navigate and access information, advice and support services, and advocate on their behalf.

Having a regular GP who provides comprehensive care over years keeps people healthy and out of hospital, and we will continue to push for greater recognition and inclusion of general practice and holistic health care for all women and girls.

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RSV Vaccine

AMA Queensland has called on the Queensland Government to follow Western Australia’s lead and provide free RSV immunisations for infants.

From April, WA is rolling out the antibody injection for infants under eight months and under 19 months if they have any serious risk factors. 

This is an important step in preventing this common, and often severe, disease in children. By the start of March we have already had more than 4,800 cases of RSV in Queensland, more than half of them in children under five years.

We are encouraging the Queensland Government to show the leadership it has displayed with the influenza and meningococcal B vaccines and provide free RSV immunisations.

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Latest COVID advice

COVID-19 remains a threat across our community and we are pleased the Australian Government accepted the latest advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), keeping the vaccine free of charge from general practices and pharmacies for eligible groups.

The advice acknowledges that older and immunocompromised Australians are most at risk, and recommends adults 65 years and over, or severely immunocompromised adults aged 18-64 receive a booster dose every six months.

The COVID-19 booster can be administered at the same time as the annual influenza shot and we will continue to encourage all eligible patients due for a booster to get their vaccinations.

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EMF Grants

Dr Kim Hansen, the Chair of AMA Queensland's Ramping Roundtable, appeared on the Today Show to talk about new $1.3 million Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF) research grants.

The grant funding will support research done by paramedics, doctors, nurses, and allied health clinicians that work in EDs to identify ways to reduce overcrowding and identify which conditions can be treated elsewhere. 

AMA Queensland is proud of Dr Hansen’s efforts to address this extremely complex problem and will continue to support the EMF’s drive to improve our health system for all health professionals, patients and communities.

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CDT Chair update

AMA Queensland’s Committee of Doctors in Training (CDT) is in the final stages of recruitment for the 2024 committee and is looking forward to the year ahead with fresh faces on board. 

There was an outstanding response to CDT’s Ward Call Survey, revealing significant concerns for the current systems in place for ward call at hospitals, with inadequate support, excess workload and fatigue impacting individual wellbeing.

The CDT has formed recommendations from these results and will be sharing these back to individuals Hospital and Health Services (HHSs), as well as advocating for high level support for digital tasking apps to streamline efficiency on ward call.

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GPTQ Bursaries

Applications are now open for the 2025 General Practice Training Queensland (GPTQ) training and research bursaries. 

AMA Queensland Foundation invites Queensland GP Fellows and Registrars to apply for the $20,000 bursaries dedicated to GPTQ’s legacy as longstanding training program committed to increasing the quality of healthcare and workforce in areas of need.  

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AGM and Dinner for the Profession

AMA Queensland invites friends, colleagues, and professionals to the biggest black-tie gala for doctors this year – our AGM and Dinner for the Profession. 

Join us to recognise our members’ achievements, celebrate 130 years of medical advocacy and inaugurate our new AMA Queensland President over drinks, a delicious three course meal and a string quartet. 

Registrations are now open, and we look forward to seeing you donning your red carpet attire for the dinners Cannes Film Festival theme this May. 

Register now


Our 2023 Q4 scorecard shows we had 953 member engagements, reached an accumulated media audience of more than 24.3 million and delivered 58 advocacy submissions to achieve positive change. 

We are proud to work with Queensland doctors to create better outcomes for our communities.

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