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11 Oct 2019


Care can’t wait. It’s a simple line. It fits so many objectives of the AMA.

Care can’t wait is the theme our President, Dr Bartone, has adopted in campaigning for more medical and nursing presence in residential aged care services. The new campaign seeks extra medical and nursing care to provide an immediate boost to safety and quality for residential aged care recipients. The Government could choose to provide this safety and quality boast in advance of the 12 to 18 months it will take for the current Royal Commission to finish its essential work, and for the Government to thereafter respond to Commission recommendations.

The Care Can’t Wait campaign is the first I’ve been involved with at the AMA. I’ve observed AMA advocacy for years, but am new to supporting the President and Federal Council in making the medical profession’s case to Government. The campaign in one sense has come together quickly, but in reality, it’s built on input from AMA members who helped shape the profession’s submission lodged with the Royal Commission this month.

Whereas the significant submission to the Royal Commission contains more than forty recommendations, the aged care campaign is narrowly focused. It’s not asking too much. Enhancing clinical presence of doctors and nurses in aged care services will result in improved care outcomes, which is what aged care service consumers and the wider public want. The main point of the campaign is for government to act now. To not delay. To not defer improvements in aged care until some point in 2022.

The way in which the AMA has traditionally done advocacy has served it well. Yet the nature of government of has changed. So too must AMA advocacy.

You can expect planned campaigns to become more of a feature of the AMA in coming years. In support of Dr Bartone’s priorities of aged care, private health insurance, mental health and the role of general practice in prevention, I’ve spent my first few weeks at the AMA working with the skilled staff in the Federal Secretariat to structure campaigns around these four imperatives.

Longer term, there is the opportunity for greater AMA member and even wider public participation in health issue campaigns led by the AMA. GetUp! and Change.Org have taken traditional grass roots campaigns into the digital age. The same opportunity exists for the AMA, even if it takes a while to get our digital capacity organised.

In the interim, I’ll soon ask Federal Council, it’s individual Councils, and the wider AMA membership what longer term issues confronting our nation’s health system the Federal Secretariat should target its attention towards. The Secretariat currently focuses on a wide range of issues. Focusing energy on the most important will likely bring members and the wider community greater benefit.

As I go about thinking about how the AMA can best target its campaign capacity, and work through enhancements with the AMA Board and Federal Council, sing out and let me know your own thoughts on what you’d like to campaign about, and how.


Published: 11 Oct 2019