Workforce, prevention and sustainability key to next three years

AMA Queensland has released its advocacy priorities for the next three years, focusing heavily on workforce, prevention and sustainability. President Dr Maria Boulton presented Health Minister Shannon Fentiman with her own copy.

Boosting the regional workforce, more support for general practice, and making hospitals more environmentally sustainable are among the top priorities for AMA Queensland over the next three years.

The state’s peak medical representative body, which celebrates its 130th anniversary in 2024, has released its Advocacy Priorities 2024-26, setting out its urgent healthcare priorities.

It calls for broader incentives to attract and retain healthcare workers in regional and remote areas, greater investment in preventative health and general practice, and a reduction in carbon emissions from hospitals and health services.

“AMA Queensland has a proud history of uniting the medical workforce and advocating for patients and the community since 1894,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said.

“Our 2024-26 priorities reflect our status and core values and we will pursue them with all levels of government and sides of politics, particularly in this state election year.

“The past few years have been dominated by COVID-19, but the stresses on our system were there long before the pandemic. It is only due to the altruism and dedication of our hard-working doctors, nurses and healthcare staff that Queenslanders continue to enjoy quality care.

“Workforce is our No.1 priority. We cannot open new hospital beds without staff to operate them. We cannot solve our regional workforce crisis without recruiting, training and supporting the GPs and other specialists, nurses and allied healthcare workers our regions so desperately need.

“We must make Queensland the most attractive destination in the nation for health professionals. This requires urgent investment in broader incentives to attract and retain the medical workforce in our regions, including high-quality, affordable and safe staff accommodation.

“We are also calling for investment in the physical infrastructure in hospital upgrades or builds. Doctors tell us they often do not have access to basic facilities such as offices, workstations and IT systems, directly reducing their ability to treat patients effectively.

“Patients are at the centre of everything we do, and governments must focus on preventative health to keep people living longer and healthier lives and reduce the pressure on the public health system.

“AMA Queensland will continue to advocate for greater investment in what we know works in preventing disease – high quality primary care, particularly general practice, and access to timely specialist treatment close to home. Care delivered to the community must be collaborative in nature with the right people in these roles.

“Expanding on our previous 130 years of advocacy, our 2024-26 priorities will inform our submissions to government and other consultations with a heightened focus on addressing our healthcare issues from the ground up.”

AMA Queensland Advocacy Priorities 2024-26 is available here.

Key priorities:

Advocacy for doctors:

  • Workforce – broader incentives to attract and retain the regional workforce, including pathways for further training, basic office facilities, and safe and affordable staff accommodation
  • Training – productive training pathways for recent graduates and overseas-trained doctors, and culturally appropriate support and mentorship for First Nations doctors
  • Leadership – embed doctors in decision-making processes and leadership at senior levels in Queensland Health and Hospital and Health Services (HHSs)
  • Wellbeing – Reform of regulatory processes that lead to distress for doctors under investigation, more support for junior, First Nations and overseas-trained doctors
  • Primary-tertiary integration – better coordination between GPs and hospitals to reduce repeat emergency department presentations, funding to establish mechanisms and support for patients to see their GP within seven days of discharge from hospital

Advocacy for patients:

  • Prevention – more investment in high-quality primary care, particularly general practice, and action to address the underlying causes of poor health outcomes including poverty, housing stress, and cost of living pressures
  • Collaborative evidence-based practice – funding for a PhD research project analysing doctors’s scope of practice and identifying administrative tasks that could be safely performed by other health professionals
  • Digital integration – investment to integrate primary care and hospital systems to promote information sharing, and rectify issues with systems including ieMR and QScript
  • First Nations health – First Nations people and organisations to be supported to lead policy development and decision-making at the local and regional level
  • Women’s health – increased investment in maternity care, especially for regional, rural and remote communities, improved access to safe termination of pregnancy services, and to alcohol and other drug treatment services

Advocacy for our community:

  • Climate and sustainability – pilot programs in environmental sustainability in six hospitals and 10 GP clinics
  • LGBTQIA+SB community – considered and sensitive government and media responses to reports and policy proposals concerning the community
  • Aged and end-of-life care – all unallocated palliative care funding to be reinvested in end-of-life care with a focus on First Nations communities
  • Substance-related harm – dedicated and additional funding for the anticipated 17,000 people who will access early intervention and diversion schemes

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