AMA (NSW) is calling on the NSW and Federal Governments to do more to respond to the COVID crisis overtaking our health system.
AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen said healthcare workers have been insulted by assurances that the health system is strong and coping.
“Those working in all sectors of our health system know this is not the case. The indication today from the Premier that elective surgery will be cancelled is yet another sign of a system in crisis.
“Suspending elective surgery to cover staffing shortages and ease pressure on hospitals may be inevitable but it was avoidable, and it will have profound consequences for patients.
“As AMA (NSW) has repeatedly said, elective surgery is not ‘unnecessary surgery’, it is serious medical care and delaying that care impacts on the quality of life for many Australians.
“Elective surgery shouldn’t be a tap that Government turns ‘on’ and ‘off’ to cover for serious cracks in our healthcare system.
“Just a few days ago, the Premier was encouraging the people of NSW to go out and celebrate New Year’s Eve. Patients are now paying the price of that decision. Other large events, such as the Country Music Festival, could have similar consequences.
“However, it is not only the hospital system in crisis. The announcement from National Cabinet yesterday to allow patients to contact their GP directly following a positive rapid antigen test has left general practice reeling.”
AMA (NSW) wrote to Minister Hunt on 17 December to highlight the insufficient funding and support for general practice.
“As general practitioners, we are ready and skilled in supporting our patients and we want to do so, however, there is no funding model to support this and insufficient pathways back into the hospital system.
“What many patients will not understand is that in most instances, the only option available to a GP concerned about a patient is to call the same public hotline or to send the patients directly to hospital,” Dr McMullen said.
AMA (NSW) is calling for a comprehensive acknowledgement of the crisis in our health system, as well as recognition that the ongoing cancellation to elective surgery has profound and long-lasting health implications and is a sign of a system in crisis.
AMA (NSW) is also seeking assurances that any cancellation of elective surgery is for a limited duration and directly relates to easing pressure on the health system.
Private hospital operators should be left to make their own decisions regarding the management of elective surgery in their facilities based on the staffing available and the needs of the public hospital system.
In addition, AMA (NSW) is urging the Commonwealth and State governments to act urgently to enact an appropriate block funding model and model of care to facilitate the care of patients in general practice.
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