The AMA has welcomed the Federal Government's intervention to fund services at Tasmania's Mersey Hospital but would now like to see this initiative extended to all poorly resourced rural, regional and remote hospitals around Australia.
AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, highlighted the plight of rural hospitals in her address to the National Press Club in Canberra last week.
Dr Capolingua said today that the AMA welcomes the extra Commonwealth Government money to help the Mersey Hospital, but this should not be a one-off.
"There are over 550 hospitals in regional, rural and remote areas in all the States and Territories and many would be in the same or an even worse position than Mersey, with State Governments having allowed them to run down," Dr Capolingua said.
"The Commonwealth needs to inject more funding into regional, rural and remote hospitals across the country. There must be a coordinated national strategy - one-off funding promises like this are simply putting out local fires.
"A significant funding boost is urgently needed in the next round of Health Care Agreements to support communities served by hospitals like Mersey, and the funding must be allocated according to local needs in consultation with the local doctors.
"To attract doctors into regional and rural areas, we need much more comprehensive support for hospitals in these areas. Doctors need well-supported hospitals in order to deliver quality services, maintain their skills, and to be encouraged to stay working in rural areas.
"Properly targeted funding in the Health Care Agreements will mean that the Commonwealth and States can work together to improve care in rural and regional areas.
"If the Commonwealth is worried that the States will simply divert the money elsewhere, then they should attach benchmarks to the funding to ensure that it gets to where it is needed," Dr Capolingua said.