The AMA today called for more Government support for doctors to provide medical care to frail, elderly residents in aged care facilities.

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said that he is not surprised by the alarming reports of poor care being delivered in some residential aged care facilities and that our senior citizens deserve better. These reports come at the same time as the results of a survey by Catholic Health Australia, which revealed that residents had poor access to medical care.

Dr Pesce said that the Government must ensure more doctors are encouraged and supported to provide medical care to older people living in residential aged care.

The AMA has already provided the Government with its proposals for access to medical care for residents in aged care.

"The health needs of older Australians are becoming more complex and numerous, so access to medical services in particular is crucial," Dr Pesce said.

"There is currently no specific regulatory requirement that aged care providers must ensure residents have access to medical care on an ongoing basis. This is despite the fact that, too often, the reports on sanctions on aged care providers are about the poor medical condition of residents.

"Ensuring residents of nursing homes have access to doctors provides an extra safeguard for the wellbeing of residents and increases the likelihood of poor care being identified earlier."

The AMA proposes:

- aged care accreditation arrangements which more closely monitor and guarantee that aged care residents receive medical care and supervision on an ongoing basis;

- specific financial support to allow approved residential aged care providers to enter into arrangements with medical practitioners, underpinned by a retainer, to ensure residents can access appropriate medical care;

- MBS rebates that better reflect the complexity of providing ongoing medical care to residents of aged care facilities for doctors and general practice nurses;

- Government support to residential aged care providers to ensure there are adequately equipped clinical treatment areas that afford patient privacy and information technology to enable access to medical records and to improve medication management; and

- sufficient numbers of registered nurses to monitor, assess and care for residents and liaise with doctors.

Dr Pesce said that recent announcements by the Government increasing the incentives for GP services in the aged care sector still do not reflect the time and complexity of work and are therefore inadequate to make a real difference.

"Every elderly person in Australia deserves a right to medical care, regardless of whether they're in their own home or in a nursing home," he said.

Australian Medical Association

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