AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the AMA welcomes the Government's investment in many aspects of the aged care sector and advises that more funding will be needed to meet the growing and future demand for quality care for older Australians.

"To ensure aged care is sustainable, and that it is geared up to meet Australia's future needs, the sector needs a further funding boost," Dr Pesce said.

"An additional 2,500 aged care places is a very small increase on the current 228,000 operational aged care places.

"Interest free loans to build new beds must be supported by proper ongoing funding so that the business model for aged care facilities is viable in the long term.

"This extra funding is needed to ensure that these new beds will actually be built, opened and maintained over the longer term.

"Unless there is absolute certainty that these new aged care beds will actually eventuate, there is no guarantee that they will have the desired effect of freeing up beds in public hospitals.

"Today's announcements rely on the aged care sector having the confidence to build sufficient capacity to provide ongoing care for older Australians in the community.

"Without this capacity, the public hospital system will remain the safety net service for the care of older Australians.

"Frail and elderly Australians deserve a level of investment that allows them to maintain their health and their dignity in their new environment."

Dr Pesce said the incentives for GP services in the aged care sector are welcome but inadequate to make a real difference.

"Unless you get the interface between general practice and aged care right, you won't fix the aged care hospital bed block issue," Dr Pesce said.

"The increase in payments to GPs under the Aged Care Access Initiative will not secure ongoing medical care for residents of aged care facilities.

"As suggested in the AMA's Priority Investment Plan for Australia's Health System, it would be better to fund aged care providers to have service agreements with local doctors to provide medical care to residents on an ongoing basis, and for Medicare rebates to better reflect the complexity and time of providing medical care to residents, most of whom have multiple and complex health care needs."

Australian Medical Association

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