Governments must work together to make every health dollar count

21 Jan 2013

AMA Federal Budget Submission 2013-14

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, today called on the Federal Government to use the May Budget to prioritise health spending on programs and services where there is strong evidence of direct benefit to patients and to take urgent action to minimise the red tape burden on doctors and other health professionals.

Dr Hambleton said there must be greater cooperation and honesty between all levels of government to ensure that every health dollar delivers a tangible benefit to patients and the community.

“The National Healthcare Agreement appears to be fraying at the edges with the Federal versus State blame game re-emerging over hospital funding,” Dr Hambleton said.

“The Federal Government has put more money into health - through current public hospital funding under the National Healthcare Agreement, and future funding under the National Health Reform Agreement and other more targeted Agreements.

“These Agreements have been signed by all governments, yet we are now seeing fingers being pointed over who is to blame for cuts to services at the local level.

“All our governments must put the interests of patients first.

“We must build capacity in our public hospitals.  Funding must be better targeted, patient-focused, and clinician led.  This will require unprecedented cooperation between the Federal and State Governments.

“The complete pipeline of medical training needs to be properly funded to ensure we have a medical workforce in sufficient numbers to meet future community need.  This will involve some long-term vision and planning, not stopgap year-by-year solutions.

“Money should be going to GP Infrastructure Grants, not GP Super Clinics.  The Grants are delivering real benefits to general practices and their local communities.  The Super Clinics are a bad idea that is getting worse and wasting valuable health dollars.

“Planning is needed to allow primary care, led by general practice, to cope with the growing demands of chronic disease in the community.

“The Government has announced major policies in the areas of aged care and mental health.  Where there is evidence that things can be done better, the Government must take the advice of clinicians at the front line and shift or re-prioritise funding accordingly.

“This same principle should be applied to e-health.  The AMA supports the PCEHR – it can make a real difference to the continuity of care for patients.

“But the legal framework for the PCEHR has imposed additional red tape on practices.  The Government can alleviate this by assisting practices to navigate the complex pathways and requirements necessary for them to participate.

“We must also proceed consultatively on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  The priority must be on timely quality care, not litigation.  The AMA has some concerns that are still to be resolved.

“And the Government must preserve and build on its commitment to improving Indigenous Health outcomes.

“The AMA Federal Budget Submission 2013-2014 provides sensible and affordable recommendations for a stronger health system.

“We may not have the environment for significant new health funding, but we have an urgent need for some smarter thinking on how precious health dollars are allocated and spent.

“The funding must find its way to the patient,” Dr Hambleton said.

The AMA Federal Budget Submission 2013-14 is at

Contact: John Flannery 02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

Media Contacts


‌ 02 6270 5478
 0427 209 753

Follow the AMA

‌ @ama_media
‌ @amapresident
‌ @AustralianMedicalAssociation