Physicians call for aged care budget 2012

The Royal Australian College of Physicians says health reforms and aged care reforms must be integrated now so older people can access ‘the right care, in the right place, at the right time and by the right team’.

Above: RACP President, Professor John Kolbe

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is calling on the Australian Government to respond to the Productivity Commission’s report into Caring for Older Australians (2011) and include aged care reform in the 2012-13 Federal Budget.

The RACP says Australia’s current health and aged care system is ill-equipped to cope with the increasing demands of an ageing population, and reform is urgently needed.

According to RACP President, Professor John Kolbe, the Australian Government must ensure that aged care reforms are integrated with national health reforms to deliver more seamless and coordinated health and aged care services to older Australians

“Almost all Australians aged over 65 years have at least one chronic condition, and 80 per cent report having three or more chronic conditions.  Specialist physicians, including geriatricians, rehabilitation physicians and palliative medicine specialists, are experts in multidisciplinary care and complex disease prevention, assessment, management and treatment for older Australians,” Professor Kolbe said.

“Older people, particularly those living in residential aged care facilities, often have difficulty accessing timely specialist medical care, resulting in unnecessary hospitalisation.

“Improved integration of the health and aged care systems is needed to ensure older people can access the right care, in the right place, at the right time and by the right team.”

The implementation of National Health Reforms, including Medicare Locals, Local Hospital Networks, Lead Clinicians Groups and eHealth and telehealth initiatives, provides opportunities to better coordinate health and aged care, and deliver more specialist medical care to older people outside of hospital.

“Working with Medicare Locals and Local Hospital Networks can allow for specialist medical care to be delivered locally to older people in primary and community settings, in particular residential aged care facilities, where current gaps have been identified,” Professor Kolbe said.

“This will allow for early assessment, prevention and management of chronic disease and complex health conditions in the elderly to improve health outcomes and reduce emergency department admissions.

“Specialist physicians should be integrated within multidisciplinary teams to improve continuity of and satisfaction with care and to reduce duplication.

“Now is the time to align health and aged care reform to ensure older people can access timely, high quality care when they need it.”

The RACP supports the Productivity Commission’s recommendation for the expanded use of in-reach services to residential aged care facilities and the development of regionally or locally-based visiting multi-disciplinary health care teams.

Tags: aged-care-reform, health-reform, john-kolbe, physicians, racp,

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