President and CEO update July 2022

4 Aug 2022

Dr Maria Boulton and Dr Brett Dale


It’s been a busy couple of months since the last update. Our hospitals have been overwhelmed with COVID cases, thousands of healthcare workers have been furloughed, and while the government pledged 2,500 new hospital beds in the state budget in June, most will not come online for years. We needed them yesterday.

We have also stepped up our fight against the North Queensland pharmacy prescribing experiment, with the then federal AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid visiting Cairns and Yarrabah last month to talk to doctors on the ground about their concerns for patient safety.

We also held a very successful and thought-provoking Annual Conference, an entertaining Dinner for the Profession, and a lively Junior Doctor Conference in Cairns.

COVID crisis

With Commonwealth modelling showing hospitalisations from this latest wave of COVID expected to peak in late August, our medical workforce is overwhelmed and fatigued.

Emergency physicians are working on their days off, GPs are doing telehealth consultations from home because they have COVID, and healthcare workers are becoming increasingly stressed and distressed by the extent of suffering by patients and their families.

AMA Queensland’s Ramping Roundtable chair Dr Kim Hansen shocked many when she told Sunrise in July that doctors are suffering moral injury from the impact of COVID – “We are seeing a lot more death and dying than we’re used to and that does take a toll on us,” she said.

Elective surgeries are being cancelled and outpatient appointments are being delayed. We need to know what the government plans to do to support our workforce and to resource GPs to continue to support the hospital system.

We continue to urge the Queensland Government to listen to medical advice. In the absence of mask mandates, we urge everyone to be sensible, take precautions and wear masks, because the strain in the hospital system affects us all.

Go here to read a transcript of Dr Hansen’s Sunrise interview and here to read a transcript of Dr Boulton on ABC Radio.

North Queensland pharmacy experiment

Dr Omar Khorshid used the last weeks of his federal AMA Presidency to travel to Queensland to step up our fight against the dangerous North Queensland pharmacy prescribing experiment.

The North Queensland pilot would allow pharmacists to diagnose, treat and prescribe and sell Schedule 4 medications for a range of conditions, including asthma, diabetes, otitis media and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, without any medical oversight and in breach of federal regulations.

The pilot was scheduled to begin in July 2022, but the state government has yet to release any details since a secret document outlining the scope of the proposal was leaked in January.

Dr Khorshid met with local doctors in Cairns and visited the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah – one of the communities targeted to take part in this pilot, despite having a highly successful collaborative healthcare clinic with its own pharmacist.

He was horrified to learn that neither the Premier nor the Health Minister have visited Yarrabah to ask the community there if they want this trial, and in Brisbane the following day challenged state politicians to consult with North Queensland communities about the healthcare systems that work people, not political donors.

The North Queensland experiment is based on the alleged success of the urinary tract infection (UTI) prescribing trial – yet the government’s own evaluation of this trial revealed 270 cases of complications but a follow-up rate of only 35.7 per cent of the trial participants, with 3,000 women unable to be contacted.

This dangerous experiment must not proceed.

Click here to hear directly from Dr Khorshid, and here to read a transcript of Dr Boulton on ABC Radio.

There's plenty more here.

Telehealth changes

The AMA is continuing to lobby for the reintroduction of telehealth rebates that ended on 30 June 2022.

While we welcome the new federal government’s decision to create a telehealth items for COVID anti-viral management, we still need to see the rebates for longer phone consults reinstated.

You can read more about the AMA’s actions here,

Resident Hospital Health Check

The seventh annual survey of doctors in training has opened and we encourage all junior doctors to share their experiences at Queensland hospitals.

The results will be collated to rate hospitals on how well they address issues including working conditions, overtime, training and culture.

It is critical to understand where hospitals are doing well and where there is room for improvement, to ensure that we support the growth of our medical workforce.

The survey is run by AMA Queensland and our Committee of Doctors in Training in collaboration with ASMOFQ the Doctors’ Union.

It is open until mid-August. Read more here.

Dinner for the Profession

It was a pleasure to see so many members and their partners at our Dinner for the Profession in July. Dr Boulton was officially inaugurated as President, following a speech by outgoing President Professor Chris Perry.

It was also an occasion to recognise the extraordinary work of doctors and others devoted to improving community health.

Former Army doctor and Brisbane GP Dr Bob Brown was awarded the AMA Queensland Gold Medal, our highest award for outstanding service to the community and the practice of medicine.

Mackay paediatrician and telehealth pioneer Dr Michael Williams was awarded the AMA Queensland Rural Health Medal for outstanding health and advocacy services to rural communities.

Professor Cindy Shannon AM was awarded the AMA Queensland Excellence in Health Care Medal for leading major reforms in Indigenous health.

You can read more about the awards here and see all the photos from the night here.

Junior Doctor Conference Cairns

We would like to thank all the doctors in training, speakers and sponsors who made our Junior Doctor Conference (JDC) in Cairns in July a success. The next JDC will be on the Gold Coast in October.

You can see the Cairns photos here and read CDT Co-Deputy Chair Dr Rachele Quested’s reflections here.

Annual Conference

It was a case of third time lucky for our AMA Queensland Annual Conference with several reschedules due to COVID. It was well worth the wait as the week-long conference in the Northern Territory was an outstanding success. More than 150 delegates enjoyed an informative and insightful conference program with speakers and panel sessions covering a myriad of issues including leadership, mental health, Indigenous healthcare, voluntary assisted dying, addiction medicine and more. Once again the conference was the perfect combination of professional development and tourism with delegates enjoying unforgettable natural and cultural experiences at Uluru and Alice Springs. We invite members and their families to join us in Lisbon in 2023 and look forward to sharing the conference information with you soon. In the meantime, take a look at what you missed out on in the Northern Territory.

AMA Queensland Scorecard Q2 2022

The AMA Queensland Scorecard outlines our key achievements and results delivered in the second quarter of 2022. The results demonstrate our extensive work to support and advance the medical profession in Queensland and protect patient health.

We had almost 4,000 member engagements and reached an accumulated media audience close to 34 million in the delivery of complex policy advocacy to achieve positive change. We are proud to leading Queensland doctors and creating better health outcomes for our community.

Take a look at our full results here.



Published: 4 Aug 2022