The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called on the Federal Government to spend $140 million to improve GP access to aged care facilities in its 2008-09 budget submission.

Its top priority is a $100 million restructure of the Medicare Benefits Schedule items that cover GP visits to nursing homes and hostels.

Under new items proposed by the AMA, GPs would be able to delegate certain tasks to practice nurses and other clinical staff.

They would also take into account the significant amount of non face-to-face time spent providing medical care to aged care facility residents.

The AMA also highlighted the need for dedicated clinical treatment rooms with IT support for visiting GPs.

It said the government should dedicate $40 million annually to improving clinical management and prescribing systems in aged care facilities.

While it welcomed the Rudd Government’s proposed transition care package, the AMA also called for a comprehensive review of the current aged care system.

“This review should involve all key stakeholders, and is a prerequisite for the development of evidence based, integrated service delivery models to meet [the] emerging future demand of an ageing population,” the report said.

The submission also highlighted the need for improved wages in aged care and the potential savings to the public health system that proper funding of the aged care system could deliver.

“By avoiding a shortage of aged care services, there is an opportunity to avoid extra pressures on the public hospitals,” it said.

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