The Federal Budget rightly focuses on the nation’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said.
“Health has been Australia’s hero throughout COVID. Investing in health not only saves lives, it’s saving the economy. This Budget is clearly designed to help with the economic recovery,” Dr Khorshid said.
Dr Khorshid pointed to $17.7 billion in aged care expenditure and $2.3 billion in mental health care as supporting much needed improvements for access to health and aged care.
“The Government’s response to the Aged Care Royal Commission will help shore up the failing sector. Moving to mandate nurse-resident ratios is long overdue, but unfortunately we will have longer to wait until these measures are in place,” Dr Khorshid said.
Additional home care packages will go a long way to clearing the waiting list of older Australians looking for support to stay in their own homes and avoid residential care longer.
The Government will increase funding for the existing Aged Care Access Incentive, although this falls well short of what is needed to improve access to GP care for RACF residents. There is also a $50 million down payment for technology investment to proceed with voluntary patient enrolment in General Practice. “Yet with these improvements, our public hospitals and General Practices are at present beyond capacity, and this is at a time when we have virtually no flu and no COVID-19 in Australia,” Dr Khorshid said.
“When our international borders eventually reopen, we will inevitably see the return of influenza and outbreaks of COVID. We’ve also been seeing growing chronic illness.
“Now is the time to be putting the health prevention and health infrastructure in place to build for the post-COVID future. It’s time to fund telehealth permanently beyond its current extension.”