The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has highlighted aged care in its election platform, again calling for improved access to medical services for people living in residential care.
The doctors’ professional group wants the next government to monitor access to medical care through the accreditation system.
It is also asking for increased rebates under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for services provided by GPs in aged care facilities.
The AMA’s president, Dr Andrew Pesce, told the National Press Club that medical care for older people was often ignored in aged care debates.
“Under Medicare, Australians are entitled to access medical care when and where they need it,” he said
“Yet, the barriers for aged care residents to receive ongoing quality medical care and medical supervision are enormous.
“Despite all the rhetoric, residents in aged care facilities are getting second-rate access to proper medical care.
“Recent successive governments have not been serious about addressing this problem. It is time to get serious.”
But Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) said it was unfair to target aged care facilities.
“If we are going to have an accreditation standard about access to medical care, you have got to be even handed,” he said
“You can’t just bag aged care services for the failure of doctors to turn up.
“There are many reasons why GPs find it difficult to visit aged care. It is not as financially attractive or convenient for them as seeing people in their own rooms and they don’t have their staff there to support them.”
Mr Mundy said most modern facilities do have treatment rooms for visiting medical practitioners.
“The challenge we’ve got is that you might get up to a dozen GPs all using same rooms and it is impossible for facilities to provide computer facilities to that many people,” he said.
“That’s where something like electronic medication management would come in handy.”