President and CEO update - April 2022

6 May 2022


Chris and Brett

 

The start of the federal election campaign coincided with unprecedented pressures on our public hospitals, our ambulance service and 000 call operators. At one point, we had almost 600 COVID patients in hospitals, 3,600 Queensland Health and ambulance service staff quarantining as COVID cases or close contacts, and the fourth highest number of 000 calls in one day on record. We remain disappointed that neither major party has yet committed to a 50-50 federal-state split of public hospital funding or to real reform of Medicare.

We will continue to call for real solutions for our health system at both the federal and state level, and continue the fight against the dangerous North Queensland pharmacy prescribing trial.

Federal Election
More than halfway through the election campaign, we are finally starting to see some details regarding health policy initiatives.

The coalition’s announcement on 3 May of $146 million to target regional, rural and remote communities with immediate health workforce needs, and its immediate matching by Labor, is welcome. 

We support the proposals to expand both the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program and the single employer model trial for GP registrars. These are practical policies that will help support the rural workforce, particularly extra funding for workforce incentives and prevocational training places.

We need to see more detail about Labor’s proposal for GP-led urgent care clinics – how they would be funded and staffed, and where they would be located. There is a risk that fully bulk-billing clinics will simply make it even more unaffordable for existing after-hours clinics to remain open. You can read our response to this proposal here.

We have joined with Queensland-based clinician, community and consumer groups to issue a joint open statement to all federal election parties and candidates. It’s vital that all political parties and candidates put the ‘care’ back into health care. 

Town Hall
As part of the AMA Clear the Hospital Logjam and Modernise Medicare campaigns, AMA Queensland is holding a virtual town hall meeting from 7pm-8.30pm on Thursday 12 May for doctors and patients to share their experiences of the Queensland health system.

We have invited a range of political candidates and parties to hear stories and explain their party’s policies. We hope to have more candidates accept our invitation to participate in the event.

The town hall will be open to the public and the media and we encourage as many doctors and patients as possible to attend.

This event is online and you can register here.

#StopNQPharmacyTrial
Thanks to all members and non-members alike who took part in our survey in early April. We received more than 1300 responses in just over a week and the response was clear – 96 per cent of Queensland doctors think the North Queensland pharmacy trial is dangerous to patients and should not go ahead.

Almost one in five GPs reported treating at least one patient for serious complications that were either missed or misdiagnosed under the urinary tract infection (UTI) prescribing trial, which the Queensland Government says is the basis for the North Queensland pilot.

Complications included antibiotic allergies, missed diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancies, menopause, pre-cancerous conditions, and delayed treatment leading to kidney infections.

These figures are truly shocking and show the urgent need for the government to immediately halt this trial given the risks to patient safety and absence of any true evaluation of health outcomes.

We have raised our concerns about the lack of publicly available information about the outcomes with the QUT ethics committee. 

The Professional Services Review (PSR) has also warned that the North Queensland trial is inconsistent with Commonwealth law.
You can read more about the UTI prescribing trial here.

Visit our campaign page for latest news and updates as well as resources including draft letters to your local MP to get this dangerous trial stopped.

AMA Queensland Q1 Scorecard
We have published the Q1 2022 AMA Queensland Scorecard outlining our key achievements and results delivered from January to April. 

Our results demonstrate our extensive work to support and advance the medical profession in Queensland. We had more than 2,700 member engagements, reached an accumulated media audience in excess of 15.8 million and delivered complex policy advocacy that achieved positive change. 

We are proud to leading Queensland doctors and creating better health outcomes for our community. Take a look at our full scorecard.  

State health inquiry disappointing
The Queensland parliament’s inquiry into the state health system focused too heavily on federal responsibilities and was a missed opportunity to address real issues at the state level.

We were disappointed that of the 40 recommendations from the committee, only four of them related to state government responsibilities.

AMA Queensland engaged with the inquiry. We put in a submission and gave evidence, thinking it was an opportunity for us to really consider what Queenslanders need from their healthcare system and a chance to look at real ways to fix hospital ramping, surgical wait lists and hospital bed block.

However, the final report appeared to be more about blame shifting on the eve of a federal election than finding real solutions.

You can read more on our response in this interview with 4BC.

AMA Queensland Foundation
AMA Queensland Foundation is continuing to help patients, doctors and medical practices get back on their feet after experiencing hardship due to the floods, issuing more than 20 Flood Assistance Grants.

Recipients include GPs like Dr Bee Kho whose Rocklea practice was destroyed. Dr Kho is not covered by flood insurance, and he is still waiting for his government flood grant to be approved and paid.

The Foundation was able to pay his grant almost immediately, helping him to be able to get up and running again.

We know these grants are a drop in the ocean compared to the magnitude of devastation experienced by so many Queenslanders. We thank all members who generously donated to the Flood Assistance appeal.

You can read Dr Kho’s story here.

Tickets are selling fast for the AMA Queensland Foundation Charity Event on 20 May 2022. This black tie event will celebrate the work of the Foundation, its donors and the organisations it supports. This year we will be raising money for Youngcare, which designs and builds specialist disability accommodation for high support needs.

Tickets are limited so get in fast here.

AMA Queensland Elections
Polls open at 12 noon Monday 9 May  for the position of AMA Queensland President and a range of Board and Council positions. Dr Nick Yim has been elected unopposed as Vice President.

The Presidential candidates are current Vice President Dr Bav Manoharan and Committee of General Practice Chair Dr Maria Boulton.
Ordinary and honorary members will be sent an email with a voting link on Monday. Polls close at 12 noon Monday 23 May and results will be announced at the AMA Queensland AGM on Friday 27 May, 6pm.

All members are encouraged to vote and have their say on the leadership of AMA Queensland.

Make sure to register to attend the hybrid AGM either online or in-person by emailing Amanda Sanderson at a.sanderson@amaq.com.au or call (07) 3872 2222. 

Please note that in-person numbers are limited so make sure to book your place.

Medical assessments for older drivers
The requirement for drivers aged 75 years and older to have an annual medical certificate certifying their competency to drive will recommence from 1 August 2022. This requirement was put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Drivers face a $143 on the spot fine or a maximum $2757 if the matter goes to court.

Transport and Main Roads will write to affected licence holders with the 1 August resumption date to give them time to see their doctor.

It’s important that all drivers on our roads are fit and safe to drive, but we understand that this can be a difficult conversation to have with a patient.

Austroads and the National Transport Commission have Fitness to Drive Guidelines for doctors and we recommend using them.

It is much easier to say to a long-term patient, ‘under the guidelines I can’t renew your licence’ than it is to say ‘I personally don’t think you are fit to drive’.

The guidelines are here.

Donor conception information
AMA Queensland has contributed to the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee’s inquiry into donor conception information.

The legal, ethical and social implications of accessing donor-identifying information can be dramatic for donors, recipients and their families. 

Any reforms to governance and regulatory frameworks relating to donor conception information must ensure that a child conceived using donated gamete/s and his or her family have access to health and genetic information about the donor/s. Access to this information must be preserved and is independent of decisions about the retention of donor anonymity.

You can read our submission here. The AMA’s 2019 Position Statement Ethical Issues in Reproductive Medicine provides further detail.

ASMOFQ update
ASMOFQ provided an update on their work including numerous days in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC), with multiple hearings and negotiations for MOCA6.

The QIRC matters included standby allowances for doctors working at rural hospitals in West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, SMO allowances and the safety of doctors working in the emergency department at Mt Isa hospital.   

ASMOFQ has submitted its initial MOCA6 log of claims and will continue to meet with Queensland Health to negotiate on behalf of Queensland doctors.  

Read their full update here.


Published: 6 May 2022