New AMA President promises to fight for GPs
Dr Tony Bartone is the AMA’s new Federal President, following his election to the office on the final day of the AMA National Conference in Canberra on May 27.
Dr Bartone replaces Dr Michael Gannon as President, and was the AMA Vice President over the past two years. Those two-year terms ended at the National Conference’s conclusion.
In a three-way contest for the top job, Dr Bartone emerged the victor after delivering a rousing speech to conference delegates, promising to fight for GPs, represent all medical professionals, and build the AMA’s membership and influence.
He also signalled an intention not to go easy on politicians and policy makers.
“Our Health Minister needs to understand the time for rhetoric is over. We need to see real action now,” he said.
“We will have a Federal Election in the next year, and I am ready for any early election call.”
A GP himself from Melbourne and a former President of AMA Victoria, Dr Bartone said he was ready for his new challenge.
“I now want to fight for Australia’s doctors so that they can continue to deliver the same quality health care that my father received,” Dr Bartone said while relating how as a child he became inspired by a dedicated GP attending his sick father.
“General practice has been systematically starved of funding, putting at risk its very survival.
“The AMA, under my leadership, has the solutions. A GP President will send a message.”
Dr Chris Zappala, a thoracic physician from Queensland, was elected Vice President to replace Dr Bartone.
Dr Zappala won a four-way contest for the vice presidency.
The two-year terms for the new AMA President and Vice President took effect immediately following the vote.
Below is Dr Bartone’s candidate speech to delegates at National Conference immediately before the vote took place.
I want to share a story with you – a story from my childhood.
A story of my family doctor, who repeatedly came to our home to visit my very sick father, who had been confined to bed for weeks. My father thankfully recovered, and remained very active for 40 more years.
The dedication of my family GP inspired my calling to medicine. A calling to help those who needed health care.
The inspiration that motivated me to become a GP still drives me today.
But my goals have expanded.
I now want to fight for Australian doctors, so they can continue to provide the excellent, compassionate care that my father received.
Australians have a right to quality health care, and it is up to us – as the AMA – to defend our world class health system.
But our health system is ailing.
Public hospital waiting lists continue to blow out.
Private health insurance is becoming increasingly unaffordable for our patients.
The enormous bottlenecks in the training pipeline.
The continuing struggle for some doctors around their own health and wellbeing.
Variable access to care in country towns and rural areas.
General Practice has been systematically starved of funding – tearing at its heart; wearing it down; putting at risk its world class outcomes in primary care, its very survival.
Delegates, our Australian health system needs our AMA to drive the health policy agenda.
The AMA, under my leadership, has the solutions to these issues. Solutions such as:
- significant, targeted investment in general practice, rewarding patient centred care;
- improved access to health care, through better funding of public hospitals, not only in the cities, but in rural and regional Australia, and Closing The Gap for our indigenous population;
- a national medical workforce strategy with quality flexible training solution, addressing workforce distribution issues;
- resolving the impasse that is mandatory reporting; and
- supporting our colleagues who are experiencing mental health issues.
Colleagues, we need a strong AMA. We need to work with the State and Territory AMAs to ensure the value proposition we offer is consistent across the country; collaborating to increase efficiencies across the federation, especially improving our communication with them.
Our AMA needs to champion solutions for Australians.
I am ready to act on that call to drive the political health agenda – a call that began, watching my family GP all those years ago.
A GP President will send an urgent, powerful message at this critical time to the GP community that membership of the AMA is essential.
Our Health Minister needs to understand that the time for rhetoric is over. Our patience is wearing thin. We need to see crucial positive actions now.
Next year, Australians will elect a new Federal Government.
We have a narrow window of opportunity to further deeply engage with Government and achieve meaningful outcomes.
And I am ready for any early election call.
Colleagues, I will continue to listen and engage with members across our AMA, ensuring your voices are heard loudly in the corridors of Government.
I am ready to be your next President.
Serving our members – that is what the AMA is about. It has been my honour to serve our AMA, and now I look for your support to continue that service as your next Federal AMA President.
Published: 27 May 2018