Sunday, 01 Oct 2023

Major $2.2bn Medicare overhaul welcomed but medical association warns budget will be real test

Major $2.2bn Medicare overhaul welcomed but medical association warns budget will be real test


Major $2.2bn Medicare overhaul welcomed but medical association warns budget will be real test

Medical groups have praised the $2.2bn Medicare overhaul announced by national cabinet but warned there is more to do to fix the nation's ailing general practice and hospital systems.

National cabinet committed nearly $1.5bn in new funding to overhaul Medicare, as part of a $2.2bn health plan to boost the number of nurses, increase after-hours care and expand the roles of pharmacists and paramedics.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said the 9 May federal budget would include extra funding to incentivise GPs to stay open later, as well as to boost the nursing workforce. Pharmacists and nurses would be encouraged to undertake "top of scope" duties.

But the Australian Medical Association president, Prof Steve Robson, said the May budget would be a "real test for the commonwealth".

"It not only needs to deliver funding to support long-term reform of general practice, it must also deliver an immediate injection of funding into general practice to ensure it remains viable and GP services are accessible and affordable," Robson said.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) also backed the changes, but urged national cabinet to do more to remove red tape and streamline recruitment processes for overseas doctors.

The health minister, Mark Butler, said the health changes would include allowing pharmacists to give jabs under the national immunisation program and to deliver the PBS opioid dependence treatment program.

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