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19 Apr 2016

By Dr Robyn Langham, Chair, AMA Medical Practice Committee

The AMA has advocated for some time to secure the appropriate recognition and resourcing of medical care for older Australians. This is even more necessary now given that 15 per cent of the population are over 65 years of age, and the proportion continues to grow.

The Medical Practice Committee, in conjunction with the AMA Council of General Practice, developed a submission in response to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs Inquiry into the Future of Australia’s Aged Care Sector

The AMA argued strongly that the aged care sector must evolve to be able to care for older Australians while preserving a person’s access to quality medical care. The AMA’s submission highlighted that medical practitioners, especially general practitioners, are underutilised in the provision of care for the ageing. This leads to a substandard outcome for the patient, and inefficiencies for the practitioner and the health system. 

The AMA also recommended that providers of aged care should have arrangements in place to ensure that residents’ needs for medical care are identified promptly, and that they receive ongoing access to medical care, preferably within the aged care facility.  Strategies to achieve this include:

  • ensuring adequate numbers of appropriately skilled nurses are employed;
  • having management practices in place to ensure residents who require medical attention from a doctor are identified quickly, and that the appropriate doctor is contacted;
  • providing doctors with access to properly equipped clinical treatment rooms that provide patient privacy; and
  • providing doctors with access to information technology infrastructure, and patient records, so ensure continuity of care.

The key message is that medical practitioners are an essential component of the aged care workforce.

The AMA submission was lodged on 4 March and is published on the AMA’s website at:

Medical Practice Committee is also reviewing the AMA’s policy and position on shared electronic medical records.

In March this year, the Government relaunched My Health Record (previously the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record), announcing two trials of ‘opt-out’ arrangements as the basis for patients to participate in, as well as a new legislative framework.

The ongoing review and updating of our policies will ensure a rapid and informed response to any new Government proposals as a result of the trials.

We will be reviewing the AMA’s position statement Shared Electronic Medical Records (2010) to ensure it still clearly defines the needs of clinicians in relation to shared electronic medical records.

Of particular concern is a requirement that core clinical information is reliably available (not subject to access controls); that governance arrangements include the real involvement of clinicians; and that medical specialists and GPs are supported to make full use of electronic medical records.

I welcome any comments on either the AMA’s position on aged care or electronic medical records to


Published: 19 Apr 2016