NACCHO supports Family Doctor Week #amafdw17 : Our ACCHO doctors – are the key to better physical and mental health for all our mob

  ” The key to a longer and healthier life is eliminating risky health habits and behaviours from your daily routine, and the best advice on minimising health risks is available from your local GP

Many Australians face the prospect of a premature death or lower quality of life through risky behaviours that are often commonplace, but are still very detrimental to their health.

Many people may not even realise that they are putting themselves, and sometimes others, at risk through everyday poor health habits and decisions

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon pictured above recently visiting Danila Dilba ACCHO Darwin with NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke

Launching AMA Family Doctor Week 2017 – the AMA’s special annual tribute to all Australia’s hardworking and dedicated GPs – AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, urged all Australians to establish and maintain a close cooperative relationship with their local family doctor.

Photo above  :All AMA Presidents from all states and Territories met at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (AHS) for Close the Gap Day Event : Winnunga is an Aboriginal community controlled ACCHO primary health care service for Canberra and the ACT community

See interview here : Dr Nadeem Siddiqui Executive Director Clinical Services Winnunga AMS ACT

Dr Gannon said that having a trusting professional relationship with a GP is the key to good health through all stages of life, for every member of the family.

“GPs are highly skilled health professionals and the cornerstone of quality health care in Australia,” Dr Gannon said.

“They provide expert and personal advice and care to keep people healthy and away from expensive hospital treatment.

“General practice provides outstanding value for every dollar of health expenditure, and deserves greater support from all governments.”

Dr Gannon said that 86 per cent of Australians visit a GP at least once every year, and the average Australian visits their GP around six times each year.

“Around 80 per cent of patients have a usual GP, which is the best way to manage your health throughout life,” Dr Gannon said.

“Your usual GP will be able to provide comprehensive care – with immediate access to your medical history and a long-term understanding of your health care needs, including things like allergies or medications.

NACCHO APP : Find an ACCHO Doctors at one of our 302 clinics

Photo above : The NACCHO App contains a geo locator, which will help you find the nearest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in your area and  provides heath information online and telephone on a wide range of topics and where you can go to get more information or assistance should you need urgent help 

Links to Download the APP HERE

“Family doctors are the highest trained general health professionals, with a minimum of 10 to 15 years training.

“They are the only health professionals trained to diagnose undifferentiated conditions and provide holistic care from the cradle to the grave

“Your GP, your family doctor, is all about you.

“When you are worried about your health, or just want to know how to take better care of your health, you should talk to your GP.”

View Interview Here : Dr Marjad Page Gidgee Healing Mt Isa Aboriginal Health In Aboriginal Hands

Dr Gannon said that the specialised work of GPs is in great demand due to the growing and ageing population, and because of health conditions that result from our contemporary lifestyles and diets.

“The importance of quality primary health care and preventive health advice has never been higher due to our modern way of life,” Dr Gannon said.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW):

  • 45 per cent of Australians are not active enough for a healthy lifestyle;
  • 95 per cent of Australians do not eat the recommended servings per day of fruit and vegetables;
  • 63 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese;
  • 27 per cent of Australians have a chronic disease;
  • 21 per cent of Australians have two or more chronic diseases; and
  • 20 per cent of Australians have had a mental disorder in the past 12 months.

“Our hardworking local GPs – our family doctors – are the key to better physical and mental health for all Australians,” Dr Gannon said.

“They provide quality expert health advice and help patients navigate their way through the health system to achieve the most appropriate care and treatment for their condition.

“Join the AMA in acknowledging their great work during Family Doctor Week.”

Follow all the FDW action on Twitter: #amafdw17

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Smoking #WNTD @AMAPresident awards #NT Dirty Ashtray Award for World #NoTobacco Day

“Research shows that smoking is likely to cause the death of two-thirds of current Australian smokers. This means that 1.8 million Australians now alive will die because they smoked.

The Northern Territory, a serial offender in failing to improve tobacco control, has been announced as the recipient of the AMA/ACOSH Dirty Ashtray Award for putting in the least effort to reduce smoking over the past 12 months.

But it seems that the Northern Territory Government still does not see reducing the death toll from smoking as a priority. Smoking is still permitted in pubs, clubs, dining areas, and – unbelievably – in schools.

The NT Government has not allocated funding for effective public education, and is still investing superannuation funds in tobacco companies.

“It is imperative that Governments avoid complacency, keep up with tobacco industry tactics, and continue to implement strong, evidence-based tobacco control measures.”

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, announced the results today at the AMA National Conference 2017 in Melbourne.

Previous NACCHO Press Release Good News :

NACCHO welcomes funding of $35.2 million for 36 #ACCHO Tackling Indigenous Smoking Programs

The Northern Territory, a serial offender in failing to improve tobacco control, has been announced as the recipient of the AMA/ACOSH Dirty Ashtray Award for putting in the least effort to reduce smoking over the past 12 months.

It is the second year in a row that the Northern Territory Government has earned the dubious title, and its 11th “win” since the Award was first given in 1994.

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said that it is disappointing that so little progress has been made in the Northern Territory over the past year.

“More than 22 per cent of Northern Territorians smoke daily, according to the latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey, well above the national average of 13.3 per cent,” Dr Gannon said.

“Smoking will kill two-thirds of current smokers, meaning that 1.8 million Australian smokers now alive will be killed by their habit.

“But it seems that the Northern Territory Government still does not see reducing the death toll from smoking as a priority. Smoking is still permitted in pubs, clubs, dining areas, and – unbelievably – in schools.

“The Government has not allocated funding for effective public education, and is still investing superannuation funds in tobacco companies.”

Victoria and Tasmania were runners-up for the Award.

“While the Victorian Government divested from tobacco companies in 2014, and has made good progress in making its prisons smoke-free, its investment in public education campaigns has fallen to well below recommended levels, and it still allows price boards, vending machines, and promotions including multi-pack discounts and specials,” Dr Gannon said.

“It must end the smoking exemption at outdoor drinking areas and the smoking-designated areas in high roller rooms at the casino.

Learn more about the great work our Tackling Indigenous Smoking Teams are doing throughout Australia 100 + articles HERE

“Tasmania has ended the smoking exemption for licensed premises, gaming rooms and high roller rooms in casinos, but still allows smoking in outdoor drinking areas.

“While Tasmania has the second highest prevalence of smoking in Australia, the Tasmanian Government has not provided adequate funding to support tobacco control public education campaigns to the evidence-based level.  It should provide consistent funding to the level required to achieve reductions in smoking.”

Tasmania should also ban price boards, retailer incentives and vending machines, and divest the resources of the Retirement Benefits Fund (RBF) from tobacco companies, limit government’s interactions with the tobacco industry and ban all political donations, ACOSH said.

It should also ban all e-cigarette sale, use, promotion and marketing in the absence of any approvals by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Promotion

Download the app today & prepare to quit for World No Tobacco Day

Queensland has topped the AMA/ACOSH National Tobacco Control Scoreboard 2017 as the Government making the most progress on combating smoking over the past 12 months.

Queensland narrowly pipped New South Wales for the Achievement Award, with serial offender the Northern Territory winning the Dirty Ashtray Award for putting in the least effort.

Judges from the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) allocate points to each State and Territory in various categories, including legislation, to track how effective government has been at combating smoking in the previous 12 months.

“Disappointingly, no jurisdiction scored an A this year, suggesting that complacency has set in,” Dr Gannon said.

“Research shows that smoking is likely to cause the death of two-thirds of current Australian smokers. This means that 1.8 million Australians now alive will die because they smoked.

“It is imperative that Governments avoid complacency, keep up with tobacco industry tactics, and continue to implement strong, evidence-based tobacco control measures.”

The judges praised the Queensland Government for introducing smoke-free legislation in public areas, including public transport waiting areas, major sports and events facilities, and outdoor pedestrian malls, and for divesting from tobacco companies.

However, they called on all governments to run major media campaigns to tackle smoking, and to take further action to protect public health policy from tobacco industry interference.

31 May is World No Tobacco Day Tweet using “Protect health,reduce poverty, promote development”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Workforce and #457visas : Overseas trained doctors still essential in the bush: assurances needed on 457

 ” While the Federal Government’s work to deliver more Australian-trained doctors to the bush is very positive and welcome, International Medical Graduates (IMGs) will continue to be essential in providing medical care in rural and remote communities for at least the next 5 years — and probably for the next 15 years “

RDAA President, Dr Ewen McPhee Rural Doctors Association of Australia has warned. (article 1 below )

View the many current Doctor vacancies in our ACCHO’s

 Advertised each week in our NACCHO #Jobalerts

Many communities would not have doctors if it were not for the excellent work of IMGs,”

It is important that we strike the right balance between filling vacancies with locally trained graduates and ensuring that communities, especially in rural and remote Australia, have doctors in the right numbers and with the appropriate specialist skills and experience to meet patient needs.

The AMA welcomes the emphasis of the new arrangements to better target recruitment and the mandatory requirement for labour market testing, which the AMA has been calling for in light of the significant increases in locally-trained medical graduate numbers. ”

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon (article 2 below)

Australian government to replace 457 temporary work visa  Source

Returning now to the Government’s announcement today that it’s scrapping the 457 visa program for foreign workers.

It is interesting to note that, of the 2618 people who arrived on Government sponsored 457 visas last year, 2268 were health professionals. It’s a huge proportion.

This graphic, which was published originally by The Guardian, shows the most common 457 visa jobs in different areas in Australia. You can see a lot of blue there, which represents café workers, but all the green that you can see on that graphic, mainly there in rural and regional areas, does represent doctors and nurses, health workers who have been brought in on 457 visas.

SkyNews interview Dr Michael Gannon (article 3 below )

Banning 457 visas will have an immediate and potentially significant impact on the recruitment of health professionals in rural and remote Australia.

Despite the increase in the number of health professionals graduating from Australian universities, recruiting professionals to work in rural and remote Australia is still difficult.

“I would love to be in the situation where we rely on locally trained health professionals to fill all vacancies in rural and remote communities“,

David Butt, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Alliance (article 4 below )

Article 1 RDAA continued

For this reason, RDAA has urged the Government to assure these much-needed doctors of their continued future support in Australia, under the 457 visa changes announced yesterday.

“Many rural medical practice employers, as well as IMGs, are highly concerned about the as yet unexplained requirements of the new visa arrangements, particularly around market testing and the changes to permanent residency applications” RDAA President, Dr Ewen McPhee, said.

“Market testing evidence has been a requirement for IMGs in applying for a Medicare provider number for many years, so we are hoping this is not going to duplicate a process that is already in place for these doctors.

“It is important that the Government works closely with all stakeholders — including rural medical practices and IMGs themselves — to educate them on the changes to the visa requirements, as this announcement has caused significant angst for many IMGs and practices with regards to what it means for them.

“RDAA understands that doctors listed in the revised visa arrangement’s ‘medium category’ will be eligible for a four year visa, with permanent residency applications eligible after three years — a change from the two year requirement under the current 457 visa.

“The recruitment of an IMG is a long process involving many steps. A number of the steps outlined in the Government’s new visa policy, such as market testing and criminal history checks, are already in place for IMG recruitment, therefore it is essential this change to the visa requirements does not duplicate but rather replaces the processes that are already in place.

“IMGs have been a backbone of medical care in rural and remote Australia for many years — and they will continue to be for at least the next 5 years, and probably even up to 15 years.

“If it weren’t for the many dedicated and highly trained IMGs who have delivered medical care in rural and remote Australia for many years, a large number of communities would not have had access to a local doctor for decades.

“Even with the very positive measures that the Federal Government has been taking to encourage more Australian-trained doctors to work in the bush, we are still a minimum of 4-5 years away from seeing the full benefits of these measures being realised.

“It will take time to deliver more of the next generation of Australian-trained doctors who are able to work unsupervised in rural and remote communities, and then it will be a slow, ongoing process of capacity building, with a gradual year-on-year increase in the number of Australian-trained doctors choosing to work in the bush.

“With IMGs still comprising approximately 40% of Australia’s rural and remote medical workforce, we will continue to need IMGs in country Australia in the short and medium-term at least, and probably well into the long-term for some locations.

“IMGs are highly appreciated and respected by the many rural and remote communities they serve, as well as by their Australian-trained colleagues.

“They deserve significant and increased support in their critical role, particularly at a time when they are highly concerned about what the 457 visa changes will mean for them and their families.”

Article 2 : AMA CAUTIOUSLY WELCOMES NEW VISA ARRANGEMENTS FOR OVERSEAS DOCTORS

The AMA has cautiously welcomed the Government’s new visa arrangements, but is seeking more detail and clarification of the possible impact of the changes on medical workforce shortages.

The current 457 visas will be abolished from March 2018, and replaced by a new Temporary Skills Shortage Visa, which will have tighter conditions and have a smaller number of eligible occupations. It will also be harder to progress to permanent residency from the new visa class.

The AMA has been advised that doctors will still be eligible for the new visa, but there is little detail about medical specialties or groups. Existing 457 visa holders will continue on the same conditions they have now. It is important that doctors with these visas who have been working hard towards permanent residency are not disadvantaged.

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said that international medical graduates (IMGs) have made a huge contribution to the Australian medical workforce, especially in rural areas and during periods of chronic workforce shortages.

“Many communities would not have doctors if it were not for the excellent work of IMGs,” Dr Gannon said.

“Australia is presently in the fortunate position of producing sufficient locally-trained medical graduates to meet current and predicted need. It is time to focus our energies on training the hundreds of Australian medical graduates seeking specialist training.

“But we still need to have the flexibility to ensure that under-supplied specialties and geographic locations can access suitably-qualified IMGs when locally trained ones cannot be recruited.

“It is important that we strike the right balance between filling vacancies with locally trained graduates and ensuring that communities, especially in rural and remote Australia, have doctors in the right numbers and with the appropriate specialist skills and experience to meet patient needs.

“The AMA welcomes the emphasis of the new arrangements to better target recruitment and the mandatory requirement for labour market testing, which the AMA has been calling for in light of the significant increases in locally-trained medical graduate numbers.

“We also need to see the Government step up policy efforts to encourage local graduates to work in the areas and the specialties where they are needed.”

Today, the chief executive officer of the National Rural Health Alliance, David Butt, did warn that banning 457 visas will have an immediate, and potentially significant, impact on the recruitment of health professionals in rural and remote Australia.

Article 3 SkyNews interview

So what does the Australian Medical Association think of the change? Joining me now live from his office in Perth is Dr Michael Gannon. He’s the President of the Australian Medical Association. Dr Gannon, thank you for your time. Do you have any concerns about the changes announced today?

MICHAEL GANNON: Well, we cautiously welcome these changes, but what we want to see is flexibility in the new arrangements to make sure that areas that still do have genuine shortages, like the rural and regional areas you mentioned, do have the ability to recruit doctors, nurses, other health workers, if need be.

ASHLEIGH GILLON: I note, looking down the list of just over 200 job categories that are being removed from that list as to people who are eligible to apply for these visas to work here, doctors are obviously not on that list, but there are plenty in the medical field. Occupations being taken off the list include medical administrators, nurse researchers, operating theatre technicians, pathology collectors, dental therapists, mothercraft nurses, first aid trainer, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, also exercise physiologists. Are you confident those type of roles can actually be filled by Australians?

MICHAEL GANNON: Well, certainly what we’ve seen in Australia in recent years is tremendous investment in medical students, and we’ve seen similar investments in a lot of these other health professions. We need to see flexibility in the arrangements, so for those specialties or those areas of the workforce where genuine shortages remain, that we are able to get staff from overseas. But what we’ve seen too much of is this mechanism gamed. We need employers to be more honest about the needs for extra staff, and what we need to see is greater investment in training positions for those hundreds of locally trained doctors who are now lining up desperately trying to find specialist training, and then deploy them where they’re needed, making sure that Australians in rural and regional areas continue to be well serviced by health professionals.

ASHLEIGH GILLON: How far away are we from that point? From being in a position where we don’t actually need foreign doctors and nurses to bolster our health system, especially in those rural and regional areas?

MICHAEL GANNON: Well, certainly, in terms of numbers, we’ve got it about right. If anything, we’ve got an oversupply. But what we need to do, and this is going to require the input of government, it’s going to require the profession to change, we need to make sure that those potentially thousands of extra doctors that we’ve got are deployed in areas where we need them.

So we need to get smart in the future. The AMA’s calling for a third of all medical students to come from rural areas. We want to see more positive experiences for junior doctors and medical students when they go to the regions. We know from evidence that that means they’re more likely to go and work in the bush later.

There’s a moral dimension to these changes: every time Australia recruits a doctor from a Third World country, or from another country, they are taking those doctors away from populations that desperately need them. Australia’s definitely reached self-sufficiency in terms of total numbers of medical graduates. We’ve got to make sure that the public hospitals, the private hospitals, the general practices, have the training positions so that we can get Australian-trained doctors out there and working.

ASHLEIGH GILLON: Aside from the job numbers that are decreasing in terms of occupations that we’re looking for to fill some of the roles here in Australia, there still are some substantial changes involved in the announcement today, including mandatory police checks, labour market testing, but is it safe to assume that already happens in the medical field? Do you see any of the changes announced today impacting specifically people working in the health area?

MICHAEL GANNON: Look, I think that there’s going to be plenty of positives to this announcement, as long as we do maintain that flexibility. So if there is the opportunity for us to recruit a genuine superstar of academia, or someone who brings a new skill to Australia, we need the flexibility to be able to employ them. If we identify specialty by specialty, or region by region, genuine shortages, we must maintain that flexibility to employ them.

But too often it’s been easy in the public hospital system to say to Australian-trained doctors with genuine grievances, ‘look, take your problem and take it away with you. We’ll find another doctor from overseas’. It’s incumbent that the employers actually produce environments that are safe for doctors to work with and to work within. And it’s actually incumbent on them to listen to doctors if they identify shortages or shortcomings in the system.

This will make it harder for hospitals just to ignore problems. They might find it harder to just say to an Australian-trained doctor, ‘go away, we can find someone else from overseas to fill the shortage’.

ASHLEIGH GILLON: Just on another matter Dr Gannon, expectations are pretty high that the Government will be lifting the freeze on Medicare rebates for doctor visits in the Budget. You’ve been lobbying pretty hard for this change, for a long time now. How confident are you that we will see that change on Budget night?

MICHAEL GANNON: Look, I’m very confident that we’ll see some change. But one of the reasons that discussions continue between myself and the Health Minister is that he’s got a budgetary environment that is hard to give me everything that I’m asking for. We would like to see the freeze lifted across the entire Medicare Benefits Schedule. The freeze on patient rebates not only impacts on GPs, but it impacts on specialists who bulk bill their payments. And what it’s meant is that for many years now, procedural specialists have had the amount that they’re paid by the insurers frozen. That, in turn, has an impact on the public hospital system.

So you can see that the freeze is impacting across the board. To thaw out across the entire system costs over $3 billion. I’m sure there’s a situation where every other Minister is being asked to deliver substantial cuts in their budgets. And in the health sphere, we’re asking for increased spending. That’s difficult for the Minister to deliver on. Equally, he’ll be in no doubt that we want to see the freeze unravelled across the entire schedule.

ASHLEIGH GILLON: Only a few weeks to go and we’ll know all. And just finally, Dr Gannon, before you go, we saw these reports yesterday that doctors are fearing that the overuse of antibiotics could see common illnesses become life threatening. It follows the death of a woman in the US from an antibiotic resistant infection. Should we be worried about this? Should we be concerned that simple childhood illnesses could one day again become deadly?

MICHAEL GANNON: I think we’ve got a lot to worry about, and it’s not just children that need to worry, it’s adults as well. We potentially face returning to the pre-antibiotic era. This has numerous dimensions of concern. We might see what we regard now as very simple operations become too dangerous to perform. We might see people who are potentially able to be cured of auto-immune disease or cured of cancer denied these treatments because we can no longer deal with the infections that come from immune suppression.

This requires numerous elements of attention. It requires international cooperation through bodies like the G20 to recognise there is market failure in here and big pharmaceutical companies can’t afford to make the investment in looking for new antibiotics. At the individual hospital level, we need to see smarter antibiotic stewardship. At the individual patient level, we need to see patients understanding reasons why doctors don’t just want to dish out antibiotics for viral infections. These individual reports are going to become more common.

ASHLEIGH GILLON: So you think Australians at the moment are taking too many antibiotics when they don’t really need them?

MICHAEL GANNON: Well, certainly, individual doctors need to get smarter when they’re prescribing antibiotics. We need to de-escalate treatment in accordance with the results of microbiological testing, where it’s appropriate to use a narrower spectrum antibiotic. Individual patients need to get smarter in preventing the infections that can be prevented through vaccination, and they need to get smarter in understanding the difference between a virus and a bacterial infection, and if the doctor says you don’t need antibiotics for bronchitis or you don’t need antibiotics because this is a virus, they need to heed that advice and do their bit to prevent antibiotic resistance.

ASHLEIGH GILLON: Dr Michael Gannon, appreciate you joining us live there from Perth. Thank you.

MICHAEL GANNON: Pleasure, Ashleigh.

Article 4 : 457 visas vital for rural and remote health workforce

Banning 457 visas will have an immediate and potentially significant impact on the recruitment of health professionals in rural and remote Australia.

Despite the increase in the number of health professionals graduating from Australian universities, recruiting professionals to work in rural and remote Australia is still difficult.

“I would love to be in the situation where we rely on locally trained health professionals to fill all vacancies in rural and remote communities”, said David Butt, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Alliance, “but that is still many years away. Without overseas trained health professionals, many rural and remote communities would simply be without access to health care.”

“I note that a new class of visa will be available, and while I have not yet seen the requirements, I would urge the Government to be mindful of the need to ensure implementation does not impact negatively on the health needs of the seven million people living outside Australia’s major cities,” said Mr Butt.

“The people who live in rural and remote Australia have higher rates of diseases than their city cousins, and have poorer health outcomes, with death rates up to 60% higher for Coronary heart disease and 35% higher for lung cancer.

NACCHO TOP10+ #JobAlerts : This week in Aboriginal Health : Doctors, Aboriginal Health Workers etc. etc.

 

 

NACCHO #ClosetheGap Aboriginal Health : Read Download Top 10 Press releases #Closethegapday

 

In this NACCHO Alert you can read /download Close the Gap Press Releases from

1.AMA 2.NACCHO 3.RACGP 4. FVLPS/#JustJustice 5. Healing Foundation

6.Pallative Care 7.Labor Party 8.Stroke Foundation

9.NSW Aboriginal Land Council .10. Australian Psychological Society (APS) is

Please note  :  Only a selection and in no particular order from hundreds released

” The Close the Gap Campaign 2017 Progress and Priorities Report, released today, shows that, despite their best efforts, all Australian governments are failing in their endeavours to meet their own targets in closing the gap – but we can turn this around,” Dr Gannon said.

The AMA believes that positive progress can be made if governments work directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and better understand the approaches that they know work in their own communities.”

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today that genuine cooperation between all political parties and across all levels of government is needed if Australia is to achieve significant improvements in closing the gap in life expectancy and health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

Photo above All AMA Presidents from all states and Territories met at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (AHS) for Close the Gap Day Event : Winnunga is an Aboriginal community controlled ACCHO primary health care service for Canberra and the ACT community

Read full article here

2.NACCHO

” Hard figures and targeted investment, not rhetoric, are key to solving indigenous disadvantage, Aboriginal health leader Pat Turner said as she called for at least 4000 homes to be built in remote Australia to help tackle the ­problem.”

As published in The Australian

Ms Turner, chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Care Organisation, said indigenous health problems would be ­addressed only through “far greater ­investment … in the physical environment including safe houses, communities and roads.

“I would estimate there are 4000 dwellings required in remote Australia alone.

“We have not had this investment,” she said. “We need to take account of the factors that contribute to good health: housing, education, employment and access to justice.

“And why hasn’t there been far greater innovation, why is the passing on of knowledge of language and culture not recognised as legitimate work? This sounds fuzzy, but it’s not. We know that around 30 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health problems are to do with social and cultural factors.

“The context of people’s lives is what matters most in determining health outcomes, and that is something that individuals are unlikely to be able to control. We ask that the federal government replace its rhetoric about economic empowerment with significant public policy initiatives that produce specific outcomes.”

Close the Gap Campaign

Download CTG Press Release : 17.03.16 MR for CTG Progress & Priorities report launch FINAL

Download PHAA Press Release :PHAA CTG 2017

Close the Gap Campaign report: Australia ‘going backwards’ in fight to end Indigenous disadvantage

Download the Press Release NACCHO CTG 2017

A peak Northern Territory  Aboriginal community controlled  health organisation which  was on track  to close  the life expectancy gap between First Nations peoples and other Australians  has challenged Governments to listen to what programs really work… and then give their people the capacity to deliver them.

Speaking to CAAMA  on  National Close the Gap Day  Donna Ah Chee CEO of the Alice Springs based Central Australian Aboriginal Congress , AMSANT Chair and NACCHO Board member  was scathing in her criticism of Government and  its inability to actually listen to what her people have been saying for decades.

Listen here :

Download the report HERE CTG Report 2017

3.RACGP

The RACGP recognises the importance of supporting our members to be great doctors for all Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

 We are committed to developing culturally safe GPs and practice staff so that they are able to work effectively in the cross-cultural context and in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. ”

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said the organisation was an active member of the Close the Gap Steering Committee, proudly committed to ending the health gap by 2030.

Download the Press release RACGP CTG 2017

4.FVPLS / #JustJustice

” We know being incarcerated affects someone’s health and yet it is not one of the Closing the Gap targets. It’s Close the Gap Day and the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee’s Progress and Priorities report 2017 has been released.

The 2017 report calls for a social and cultural approach and covers many issues, including justice. This is the fourt report from the Steering Committee to call for Justice Targets.

Since 2004, there has been a 95 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody. Over the same time, we have seen the crime rates decrease across the country.

Urgent action is required to reduce incarceration if we are ever to see life expectancy parity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Despite the urgency of the need, and the calls by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations for an urgent response to this need, there has been no indication that governments are responding with the level of urgency required.”

Summer May Finlay from Croakey : Read Full report HERE

5. Healing Foundation

 “The social determinants of health need to be realigned in a cultural context of understanding the impact of trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and how to overcome – to heal – from this. Focusing on changing just economic or education levels alone will not fix the profound challenges we face without also giving people the opportunity to improve their social and cultural connectedness and feel greater inclusion.”

Meanwhile, Richard Weston, CEO of the Healing Foundation, writes in The Guardian of the vital importance of trauma-informed practices and services, as well as for broadening discussion of the social determinants of health.

6.Palliative Care Australia

While this report doesn’t address palliative care, it is important that all people with a life-limiting illness are able to access palliative care.

“We understand that while some parts of the country offer exceptional levels of palliative care, culturally appropriate care is still not done well everywhere in Australia. We need to see that good work spread,” Ms Callaghan said.

“Community-based local approaches to end-of-life care are preferred, which leads to a significant role for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals in the delivery of quality end-of-life care.

“It is also very important that non-Indigenous health professionals develop culturally safe practice through education or training and appropriate engagement with local Indigenous communities.

“Culturally safe palliative and end-of-life care means that providers or practitioners must understand how these communities want health care to be provided

Download the Press Release Pallative Care CTG 2017

7. Labor Party

 ” The 2017 Close The Gap Progress and Priorities Report reiterates the need for all levels of Government to recommit and refocus, Labor stands ready to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and their Communities.”

Labor is committed to working in a bi-partisan way, striving for the best possible outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples. Labor recognizes the importance of relationships that harness the knowledge, creativity and innovation that community controlled originations bring to driving decisions; strong relationships, working in partisanship, is the only way forward.

“Genuine partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations, are essential to improving the quality of life for our First Peoples. As stated in the Report, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples cannot be considered at the margins”,

Senator Dodson said.

Download the Press Release Labor Party CTG 2017

8.Stroke Foundation

 ” Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer stroke at a younger age, are more than twice as likely to be hospitalised with a stroke and 1.4 times as likely to die from stroke as non-Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experience multiple risk factors for stroke and cardiovascular disease and there are significant challenges around identifying and managing that risk. 

As a healthcare community we need to come together to close the stroke gap which is claiming the lives of too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Stroke Foundation is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations to improve the health outcomes of Indigenous communities.”

By Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan

Today is Close the Gap day – a national movement demanding equal access to healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Most Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies of any country in the world – but this is not true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10 –17 years less than fellow Australians.  The mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is on par with some of the world’s most impoverished nations. The United Nations Report, The State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (2009) indicated Australia and Nepal have the world’s worst life expectancy gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people – we must do better.

Here at the Stroke Foundation we believe everyone should have the opportunity to lead a healthy life and have access to best practice healthcare. While Australia has made some big strides towards improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, as a nation we have a long way to go.

Equal access to healthcare is a basic human right. Everyone in Australia should have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. It is time our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities get the health care and support they need and deserve.

The facts

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more than twice as likely to be hospitalised with stroke.
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 1.4 times as likely to die from stroke as non-indigenous Australians.
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 1.5 times as likely as non-Indigenous people to be obese – seven in 10 adults are overweight or obese.
• Two in five indigenous Australians smoke daily, 2.6 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.
• More than half of Indigenous Australians (over 15) put themselves at risk of harm by drinking alcohol.
• 64 percent of Indigenous adults do not get enough exercise.
• 85 percent on Indigenous children and 97% of Indigenous adults do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.
• One in five Indigenous adults have high blood pressure.
• One in four Indigenous adults have abnormal or high cholesterol levels

– See more at: https://strokefoundation.org.au/

9.NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live 10 to 17 years younger than other Australians and the data on preventable illness and infant mortality is an appalling reminder of the challenges we face.

“The inequalities in health are a generational challenge and we have to continue the fight because the lives of our children depend on it.

“Positive change is possible – particularly when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are driving those changes.

“Solutions that are generated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are a key part of any efforts to Close the Gap on health and living standards in Australia.”

Further progress to Close the Gap can be made if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are able to drive change, the Chair of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) Roy Ah-See said today

Please note the above NACCHO TV was recorded when Roy was Chair of Yerin ACCHO

Download Press release NSW Land Councils CTG 2017

10. Australian Psychological Society (APS)

” There is a need for more community-based, culturally appropriate mental health services that include strengthening culture and identity, and that are delivered by culturally responsive health professionals “

Leading Aboriginal psychologist and Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) Professor Pat Dudgeon FAPS, agrees that building on social and emotional wellbeing and cultural strengths is the foundation for improving Indigenous health and preventing suicide.

Picture : Our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner as a contributor to the report attended the launch pictured here with Senator Patrick Dodson and co-author Prof. Pat Dudgeon

 Download Press Release dAustralian Psycholigical Society CTG 2017

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #obesity : What is the #sugartax and who reckons it’s a good idea?

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 ” JUNK food would be banned from schools and sports venues, and a sugar drink tax introduced, under a new blueprint to trim the nation’s waistline.

The 47-point blueprint also includes a crackdown on using junk food vouchers as rewards for sporting performance and for fundraising.

State governments would be compelled to improve the healthiness of foods in settings controlled by them like hospitals, workplaces and government events.

And they would have to change urban planning rules to restrict unhealthy food venues and make more space for healthy food outlets. “

Download the 47-point blueprint Report here :

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 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Obesity #junkfood : 47 point plan to control weight problem that costs $56 billion per year

 

” In 2014-15, 63.4% of Australian adults were found by the National Health Survey to be overweight or obese. In response to Australia climbing up the ladder of the most obese countries in the world, professor Stephen Colagiuri, a diabetes expert at the University of Sydney, has urged the government to introduce a sugar tax to dissuade people from consuming sugary foods.”

Sophie Heizer Crikey intern

But what if you live in a place where you don’t have easy access to fresh food? What if the Macca’s down the road is within walking distance, but you have to jump in the car and drive for miles to get to the nearest supermarket? That’s called a food desert, and the sugar tax could have a bigger impact on people who live in those areas.

What is the sugar tax?

At this point, it is a recommendation from some health experts, which would place a levy on sugary drinks in order to mitigate obesity rates.

A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) says that a tax of 20% or more results in the drop of soft drink sales, which they say would also cut healthcare costs if it succeeded in improving health outcomes.

The Grattan Institute has suggested a tax of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar, and calculated that obesity costs Australians $5.3 billion a year. The savings they have projected would mean an extra $500 million for the budget.

Is there support for the sugar tax?

The WHO called for a tax on sugary drinks across the world in October 2016 to curb the effects of sugary drinks on health.

Many health researchers also advocate for the tax as well. Dr Belinda Reeve from the University of Sydney writes that there needs to be more things done at the same time to reduce obesity rates and the risk of diabetes, but the tax could be effective in Australia, as the tobacco tax has been.

The Greens have released a statement saying that if the government doesn’t act on the issue, they will draft a private senator’s bill and introduce it to the Senate by the end of 2017.

Who is against it?

The Turnbull government, Labor, and senators Pauline Hanson and Derryn Hinch have all rejected the idea of imposing a sugar tax.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt has said the government was taking action in other ways: “We’re committed to tackling obesity, but increasing the family’s weekly shop at the supermarket isn’t the answer.”

Pauline Hanson said she would not support the tax because she believes it’s high time people take responsibility for what they put in their mouths, and Derryn Hinch said the tax would be unfair and unworkable.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the opposition had no plans for a sugar tax, but said it was probably time to “toughen up advertising restrictions around junk food at peak periods when the little eyeballs are on the TV and getting all the wrong messages about food and healthy eating”.

What is a food desert?

A food desert is an area where there are no fresh fruit or vegetable outlets within a 500-metre radius. They are also defined by limited access to shops that sell healthy foods, coupled with an abundance of fast-food takeaway options within easy walking distance. These areas leave people disenfranchised by lack of access to affordable, healthy food and at a greater risk of obesity and the development of diabetes.

There have been a number of food deserts identified in Australia: Braybrook, Maidstone and West Footscray/Kingsville have been identified in Victoria, areas of western Sydney including Blacktown (where residents are three times more likely to develop diabetes) and Mount Druitt and even in wealthy areas of Canberra. Research commissioned by Anglicare and Red Cross showed that there was insufficient access to affordable and nutritionally adequate food in inner suburbs such as Kingston, Red Hill and Fyshwick, as well as Narrabundah Longstay Caravan Park, Belconnen, Weston Creek and newer suburbs in the Gungahlin region.

How would the sugar tax affect people living in food deserts?

The same kind of sugar tax was proposed in the UK. It was met with heavy resistance from the seemingly conservative lobby group, the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which cited the ineffectiveness of the tax in Mexico, the chief executive stating:

“It is astonishing that the government is pressing ahead with this pernicious tax when the evidence clearly suggests that it will simply not affect consumption in any meaningful way. As with any regressive tax, this will only raise living costs for hard-pressed families, already struggling with big tax bills. Politicians must look at the evidence and ignore the High Priests of the Nanny State in the public health lobby, and abolish the Sugar Tax before it is too late.”

Food deserts are, in particular, an issue for people of low socio-economic status (SES) and where there are people with mobility issues in the community. The tax will undeniably hit the poor and those living in food deserts harder because more of their income goes towards poor quality food, but there is evidence from studying the effectiveness of the tax in Mexico that it does decrease spending on unhealthy food products for everyone.

A research paper by PLOS One, which also supports the 20% hike in tax on sugar, states:

“We note that Australians of low SES are disproportionately affected by high rates of diet-related illnesses and are therefore likely to experience greater dietary improvements as a result of a tax on SSBs. Inequitable aspects are likely to be further ameliorated if revenue was used to support healthy eating initiatives and subsidies on healthy foods for low-SES households.”

This means the sugar tax could actually be beneficial to low-SES households in food deserts, as a result of both a shift in eating habits, and a freeing up of space in the health budget to rectify access issues in relation to cost and geography.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Budget2017 : @AMAPresident launches Pre-Budget Submission 2017-18

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 ” The gap in health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is still considerable, despite the commitment to closing the gap.

The AMA recognises the early progress that is being made, particularly in reducing early childhood mortality rates, and in addressing major risk factors for chronic disease, such as smoking.

To maintain this momentum for the long term, the Government must improve resourcing for culturally appropriate primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the health workforce.

Despite recent health gains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, progress is slow and much more needs to be done.”

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon launching the AMA’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017-18

Download AMA submission here

ama-budget-submission-2017-18

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today that the appointment of Greg Hunt as Health Minister provides the Government with the perfect opportunity to change direction on health policy, and to consign any links to the disastrous 2014-15 Health budget to history.

Launching the AMA’s Pre-Budget Submission 2017-18, Dr Gannon said the key for the Government and the Health Minister is to look at all health policies as investments in a healthier and more productive population.

“Health is the best investment that governments can make,” Dr Gannon said.

AMA POSITION Indigenous Health pages 14/15

The AMA calls on the Government to:

• correct the under-funding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services;

• establish new or strengthen existing programs to address preventable health conditions that are known to have a significant impact on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, such as cardiovascular diseases (including rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease), diabetes, kidney disease, and blindness;

• increase investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations. Such investment must support services to build their capacity and be sustainable over the long term;

• develop systemic linkages between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations and mainstream health services to ensure high quality and culturally safe continuity of care;

• identify areas of poor health and inadequate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and direct funding according to need;

• institute funded, national training programs to support more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become health professionals to address the shortfall of Indigenous people in the health workforce;

• implement measures to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s access to primary health care and medical specialist services;

• adopt a justice reinvestment approach to health by funding services to divert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from prison, given the strong link between health and incarceration;

• appropriately resource the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan to ensure that actions are met within specified timeframes;

• adopt the recommendations of the AMA’s 2016 Report Card on Indigenous Health and commit to a target to eradicate new cases of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD); and

• support a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Hearing Health Taskforce that can provide evidence-based advice to Government, embed hearing health in Closing the Gap targets, and recognise its importance in early childhood development, education, and employment.

“The AMA agrees with and supports Budget responsibility. But we also believe that savings must be made in areas that do not directly negatively affect the health and wellbeing of Australian families.

“Health must be seen as an investment, not a cost or a Budget saving.

“There are greater efficiencies to be made in the health system and in the Health budget, but any changes must be undertaken with close consultation with the medical profession, and with close consideration of any impact on patients, especially the most vulnerable – the poor, the elderly, working families with young children, and the chronically ill.

“But the AMA urges caution – and care. The Government must not make long-term cuts for short-term gain. Patients will lose out.

“In this Pre-Budget Submission, the AMA is urging the Government to invest strategically in key areas of health that will deliver great benefits – in economic terms and with health outcomes – over time.

“The first task of the new Minister must be to lift the freeze on Medicare patient rebates, which is harming patients and doctors.

“Primary care and prevention are areas where the Government can and should make greater investment.

“General practice, in particular, is cost-effective and proven to keep people well and away from more expensive hospital care. It was pleasing to hear Minister Hunt use his first health media conference to declare that he wanted to be the Health Minister for GPs.

“The Government must also fulfil its responsibilities – along with the States and Territories – to properly fund our public hospitals.

“So too, the Government must deliver on its commitments to improve the health of Indigenous Australians.

“In this submission, the AMA provides the Government with affordable, targeted, and proven policies that will contribute to a much better Budget bottom line in coming years.

“More importantly, the AMA’s recommendations will deliver a healthier and more productive population to drive further savings into the future.”

The AMA Pre-Budget Submission 2017-18 covers the following key areas:

  • Medicare Indexation Freeze;
  • Public Hospitals;
  • Health Care Home;
  • Medicare Reviews;
  • Medicare Levy;
  • Pathology;
  • Private Health Insurance;
  • Medical Indemnity – Underpinning Affordable Health Care;
  • Medical Care for Palliative Care and Aged Care Patients;
  • Indigenous Health;
  • Mental Health;
  • Medical Workforce and Training;
  • Obesity;
  • Nutrition;
  • Physical Activity;
  • Alcohol and Drugs; and
  • Climate Change and Health.

The AMA Pre-Budget Submission 2017-18 is at https://ama.com.au/sites/default/files/budget-submission/Budget_Submission_2017_2018.pdf

This Submission was lodged with Treasury ahead of the cob Thursday 19 January 2017 deadline.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : A new Health Minister must address the #medicare rebate #freeze – a barrier to health reform

 

Newly elected Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Michael Gannon speaks at a press conference at the National Convention Centre in Canberra, Sunday, May 29, 2016. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

 ” The Medicare rebate freeze, which has been in place since 2010, had become a barrier to reform between the health sector and the Coalition.

It really does represent a major issue and I think it would be a fabulous sign of good faith with any new minister if they were able to move on that measure,”

Australian Medical Association president Dr Michael Gannon Speaking to Sarah Martin at The Australian

Read AMA President press coverage at NACCHO News Alerts

Doctors are calling for the country’s incoming health minister to reset the government’s relationship with the sector by ending a controversial freeze on Medicare payments.

With Malcolm Turnbull ­expected to announce a new health minister either today or ­tomorrow, doctor groups say lifting the freeze would restore faith with the sector and ease the path for future reform.”

The Prime Minister is ­considering a limited reshuffle, with Cabinet Secretary Arthur ­Sinodinos or Industry Minister Greg Hunt most likely to take on the portfolio.

Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said whoever took on the politically sensitive portfolio needed to ­implement reforms once reviews established by former minister Sussan Ley were completed, ­including one examining payments made under the Medicare Benefit Schedule.

“I am sure if the government lifted the freeze next week then they would be less likely to have the College of GPs complaining about other elements of government policy.”

President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Bastian Seidel said the organisation wanted to see the government adopt evidence-based policy that would endure regardless of who held the portfolio.

Dr Seidel said the RACGP would be calling for an immediate end to the freeze on Medicare ­rebates for doctors, saying it would make a “significant difference” to patients.

“The top priority for the RACGP and our members and our patients is to lift the Medicare rebate freeze for general practice,” Dr Seidel said.

He said ending the freeze on payments to doctors would cost $150 million a year, and called for a reprieve over the next two years while a review of the MBS was completed.

Mr Turnbull is understood to be considering whether he reduces the size of cabinet from 23 to 22 ministers, while increasing the outer ministry from seven to eight to maintain the ministry at its current level of 30.

Doing so would likely see the elevation of an assistant minister to the outer ministry, with conservative NSW MP Angus Taylor a frontrunner.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : We need more Indigenous doctors , GP’s and thier essential primary health care role

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” In 2012, there were 221 medical practitioners employed in Australia who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – representing 0.3 per cent of all employed medical practitioners who chose to provide their Indigenous status.

In 2015, the Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand reported that a total of 265 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students were enrolled across all year levels. Of the 15 medical colleges, four have never had an Indigenous trainee.

Medical workplaces and training providers must find ways to support Indigenous trainees and medical practitioners,”

Dr Michael Gannon is a very committed to Aboriginal community controlled health and increasing the number of Indigenous Doctors

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : AMA calls for targets to increase Aboriginal people in workforce

He is federal president of the AMA  ( Australian Medical Association.) and heads the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the St John of God Subiaco Hospital, where he was born.

Pictured below with NACCHO Chair Matthew Cooke

See NACCHO TV for interviews with some of our Indigenous doctors

Dr Mark Wenitong Pictured above

Public Health Medical Advisor Apunipima Cape York Health Council

and

Dr Marjad Page Gidgee Healing Mt Isa Aboriginal Health In Aboriginal Hands #closethegap

AMA and NACCHO -Aboriginal health background

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For the AMA, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health has been, and will remain, a priority. It is our responsibility to advocate for and support efforts to improve health and life outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples.

The AMA works closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a number of ways to contribute to our mutual goal of closing the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

We have close relationships with NACCHO, the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association and the Close the Gap Steering Committee, through which we collectively contribute to the national debate on Indigenous health issues. The Taskforce on Indigenous Health, which I Chair, is another way that the AMA works in partnership with Indigenous people.

Each year, through the Taskforce, the AMA produces an annual Report Card on Indigenous Health a landmark publication that makes practical recommendations to governments on how key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues should be addressed.

GPs – The drivers of patient-centred health care                             

Australia has a very good health system, the envy of many in the world. It has been built around the central role of general practitioners.

GPs are highly trained specialists. They are uniquely positioned to diagnose and treat illness, and coordinate care working in collaboration with their patients, other specialists, and allied health care professionals.

General practice is delivering great value for patients, the community, and government. GPs are achieving very good health outcomes for patients – with modest out of pocket costs, and spending on general practice representing only six per cent of total health spending.

General practice has embraced team-based care, with many practices employing practice nurses and allied health professionals. For example, there are over 12,322 nurses working within general practice. It is estimated that over 60 per cent of practices employ at least one practice nurse.

GPs are making use of Chronic Disease and Mental Health items in the Medicare schedule to support patients in accessing the care they need.

GPs have embraced technology, with general practice in Australia now highly computerised.

This is making a world of difference. While many patients have their preferred GP, if they need to see another doctor or health professional in their practice, their patient record is readily available. This supports high quality care.

The care provided by GPs is built around the needs of the patient.

GPs occupy a gatekeeper role in our health system. This not only helps patients to navigate what can be complex and confusing, it also ensures close collaboration between GPs and other specialists in delivering care. It is one of the reasons why our health system delivers the high quality results our patients expect and deserve.

We cannot forget that fragmentation of care is the enemy of quality care.

Too often, other health professions seek to expand their role and scope of practice, at times at the expense of the quality of care. One of the reasons why health costs in the United States are so high, and outcomes poor in comparison to ours, is their fragmented approach to health care, with poor coordination and duplication being major problems.

We need to build on what works, with a strong collaborative approach to care.

Other health professionals need to be able to work autonomously to their full scope of practice. This is something that the AMA fully supports. However, the patient’s care needs to be well coordinated and it needs to be built around medical diagnosis.

We must never forget that care is about the patient. Other health professionals want to carve out new roles, often based on the premise that they will be looking after relatively simple presentations, and that this will free up time for doctors to do more complex work.

To be perfectly clear, there is rarely such a thing as a ‘simple’ presentation. GPs know their patients’ histories. So-called ‘simple’ symptoms can be a sign of a far more complex and potentially dangerous condition. GPs are trained to look for enigmas like depression and alcoholism.

In reality, a ‘simple’ visit to the GP can make a big difference to a patient’s health. Comprehensive, longitudinal care is about much more than just seeing patients when they are sick.

Vaccinations and basic acute presentations all represent an opportunity to talk about prevention and a patient’s overall health. Every visit is a health promotion opportunity.

Simple advice can make big changes to a patient’s health and wellbeing. Every consultation has the potential to uncover more serious health issues, with early intervention often the key to a good prognosis.

While it is important that patients get access to the right care from the right health professional at the right time, we need to build on what we know works well for patients. Doctors are not afraid of workforce reform, but it must be grounded in the fundamental principle of quality.

Any changes to scope of practice for different health practitioners must be underpinned by sound arrangements for:

  • setting accreditation standards for education and training programs;
  • assessing education and training providers against those standards;
  • setting practice standards; and
  • assessment of practitioners for registration against those standards.

The AMA has previously said that there is an urgent need for an independent entity to be set up to assess and evaluate the future health workforce needs of the Australian community.

Reforms must be driven by evidence, and build on a collaborative approach to care – as opposed to individual professional interests.

The Australian community will not accept second best when it comes to the quality of their health care. Near enough is not good enough.

We are training more doctors than ever before, with around 3,700 new medical graduates entering the workforce every year.

We know that there are problems with distribution of the medical workforce and that problems in rural and regional areas persist. Some specialty areas are also in short supply. But problems in accessing care are being addressed.

We must build on this training investment by having in place policies that support doctors working in the locations and specialties where they are desperately needed.

This will require greater investment in post-graduate training and well-crafted policies that target areas of workforce shortage.

We long ago moved beyond the 2005 Productivity Commission Report and the medical workforce shortages that existed at the time.

Our challenge is how to best deploy a rapidly growing medical workforce so that we meet community need, working closely with our colleagues in other health professions, rather than being bogged down in inter-professional rivalries that are not in the interests of either our health system or the patients we serve.

Australians want and deserve the best quality primary health care.

GPs are the key providers and coordinators of patient-centred care.

Over 30 years, Governments from both sides of politics have undermined and undervalued General Practice. It is time that they realised their value and supported them in their essential primary health care role.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Cultural learning the key to new ways of improving Aboriginal health

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” Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health training strategic plan is to expand our capacity and improve the quality of GP training in Aboriginal health settings.

We aim to develop mutually beneficial relationships by building a culturally diverse health workforce, by raising the awareness about the unique cultural history that Aboriginal people enjoy, particularly in Tasmania.”

Allyson Warrington chief executive of General Practice Training Tasmania

GENERAL Practice Training Tasmania is committed to “Closing the Gap”, through its partnership with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.

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GPTT aims to improve health outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Evidence clearly points out Aboriginal people continue to suffer a greater burden of ill health compared to the rest of the population.

Overall, they experience lower levels of access to health services, are more likely to be hospitalised for most diseases and conditions, to experience disability and reduced quality of life, and to die at younger ages than other Australians.

Aboriginal people also suffer a higher burden of emotional distress and mental illness than that experienced by the wider community.

GPs have a key service delivery role in addressing these issues. One of GPTT’s main aims is to train GP registrars to deliver high-quality, innovative, regionally based training programs that meet the primary healthcare needs of all Australians.

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health training strategic plan is to expand our capacity and improve the quality of GP training in Aboriginal health settings.

We aim to develop mutually beneficial relationships by building a culturally diverse health workforce, by raising the awareness about the unique cultural history that Aboriginal people enjoy, particularly in Tasmania.

Last year we held a Cultural Camp at trawtha makuminya, or Gowan Brae, near Bronte Park.

For two days, GP registrars from across the state enjoyed catering, cultural walks and activities with 10 Aboriginal community members, who ranged in age and experience from elders to young children.

Community members Jason Smith and Nathan Maynard guided the walks and shared information about the traditional fire burning they have been conducting on the property.

They also shared Aboriginal history and culture, showing GP registrars stone tools and the importance of our heritage.

Our GP registrars were treated to a cultural lunch — barbecued mutton-birds and kangaroo patties, with an abundance of salad and fresh fruit. They were taught some of the basic skills of basket weaving and making kelp water carriers. Participants enjoyed wearing ochre and asking lots of questions about the way the original Tasmanian aboriginals lived and survived.

The feedback from our GP registrars was around the strength of their experience and how much they were privileged to learn about the culture of Tasmania’s first people. We will continue to work with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre to deliver this experience.

In the past, GPTT has also been involved with program initiatives, including:

THE delivery of an outreach service for frail, socially isolated, elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with chronic diseases.

GP registrars planning and organising their learning, specifically facilitated by the Medical Director from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

WE have also been involved through registrar and GP support across the Tasmanian Aboriginal Health Service network.

Every year, GP registrars have the opportunity to spend a significant part of their training at the Aboriginal Health Services in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie and persuade future GP registrars to choose these services as part of their GP training.

General Practice Training Tasmania has also contributed funds for the refurbishment of medical facilities and the upgrading of existing clinical rooms at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, as well as supplying appropriate medical equipment.

General Practice Training Tasmania is committed to both continuing and improving our partnership with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : AMA calls for targets to increase Aboriginal people in workforce

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The AMA has called for targets to increase the proportion of women in health leadership positions, and the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the medical workforce.

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, today released the AMA Position Statement on Equal Opportunity in the Medical Workforce.

“The medical workforce should reflect the diversity of the patients it cares for. Doctors from diverse backgrounds bring skills and perspectives that enable the medical workforce to be more responsive and empathetic, not only to individual patient needs but to broader community needs,” Dr Gannon said.

“The AMA recognises that there is an under-representation of women in leadership positions in the medical workforce, and an under-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout the health care sector.

“The AMA supports targets to address the current under-representation in the medical workforce, including medical students, of women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Targets should be realistic, and must continue to be merit-based, but organisations should have a range of positive strategies and initiatives to attract doctors from diverse backgrounds.”

Currently, fewer than 12.5 per cent of hospitals with 1000 employees or more have a female chief executive, and only 28 per cent of medical schools have female deans. Women make up one-third of State and Federal chief medical officers or chief health officers.

In 2012, there were 221 medical practitioners employed in Australia who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – representing 0.3 per cent of all employed medical practitioners who chose to provide their Indigenous status.

In 2015, the Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand reported that a total of 265 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students were enrolled across all year levels. Of the 15 medical colleges, four have never had an Indigenous trainee.

“Medical workplaces and training providers must find ways to support Indigenous trainees and medical practitioners,” Dr Gannon said.

“Removing the barriers to employment and training, coupled with targeted recruitment, promotion, retention, and support strategies, will help to achieve a diverse workforce that can respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and communities.”

Dr Gannon encouraged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students currently studying medicine at an Australian university to apply for the 2017 AMA Indigenous Peoples’ Medical Scholarship. Successful applicants will receive $10,000 each year for the duration of their course.

“There is evidence that there is a greater chance of improved health outcomes when Indigenous people are treated by Indigenous doctors and health professionals,” Dr Gannon said.

“Increasing the number of Indigenous doctors and health workers improves access to culturally appropriate health care and services, and ensures medical services respond properly to the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Applications close on 31 January. More information can be found at https://ama.com.au/article/applications-2017-ama-indigenous-peoples%E2%80%99-medical-scholarship-close-31-january-2017

The AMA also called on workplaces and training providers to ensure that they had processes for reporting and responding to any complaints relating to equal opportunity, and to develop policies on bullying and harassment, flexible work arrangements, return to work following extended leave, doctors’ health and wellbeing, and cultural safety.

The AMA Position Statement on Equal Opportunity in the Medical Workforce can be found at

https://ama.com.au/position-statement/equal-opportunity-medical-workforce-2016