A third of doctors are planning to cut back or completely end their visits to patients in aged care homes within two years.
The Australian Medical Association’s aged care survey shows one-in-three doctors are planning to reduce visits because the Medicare rebates are inadequate for the amount of time and work involved.
AMA president Tony Bartone says he wants aged care to be an election issue, just months after the federal budget delivered $1.6 billion for the sector.
“Older Australians all too frequently do not have the same access to medical care as other age groups – a longstanding result of inadequate funding in the aged care system,” Dr Bartone told the National Press Club on Wednesday.
“This inequity will likely only grow as the Australian population ages with more complex, chronic medical conditions requiring more medical attention than ever before.”
Dr Bartone said there have been numerous consultations and reviews.
“Enough. Now is the time for action,” he said.
“There is already sufficient information to underpin the final recommendations. It is simply unfair and unjust to delay this any further.”
He wants an increase in funding for GP visits to aged care facilities, which he said would save money on fewer ambulance transfers to hospitals.
‘The AMA wants to see Medicare rebates that adequately cover the time that doctors spend with the patient, assessing and diagnosing their condition and providing medical care,” Dr Bartone said.
His organisation would ensure aged care gets the attention and profile it deserved in the election campaign.
Treasurer Scott Morrison said the AMA’s survey was done before the federal budget’s funding boost, so the data was somewhat out-of-date.
“The very need … doctors have identified was a need that was addressed in this year’s budget and we look forward to that having a positive impact,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
“We have made major strides forward in this area over the last few years and there’s more work to do.”