Hospital failure blame game rages on as doctors call for more resources

Queensland’s GPs say the state government needs to take responsibility for public hospital capacity pressures, after the deputy premier linked them to the problem.

May 20, 2022, updated May 20, 2022
Deputy Premier Steven Miles. Photo: ABC

Deputy Premier Steven Miles. Photo: ABC

Steven Miles said earlier this week that emergency department waiting times and ambulance ramping had increased because more patients with respiratory issues were going to public hospitals after being turned away by GPs fearful of Covid-19.

But the deputy premier later backtracked saying his comments, made to reporters in Cairns on Thursday, were taken out of context and thanked GPs for their hard work.

Queensland GP Alliance chair Dr Matt Masel said Miles was trying to shift blame from his own government’s failures.

“The deputy premier has claimed that he was taken out of context on Wednesday and that people can’t get appointments with their GPs or that GPs are too expensive or too far away,” Masel said in a statement on Friday.

“He blames the federal government for not investing in general practice. On that we can agree with him. Funding for access to primary care is inadequate.

“But the Queensland government needs to fix hospitals and not try to shift blame.”

Masel called for incentives for GPs to work across both metropolitan and regional centres to address shortages.

General practice needed to be more attractive to medical graduates, but that has been hindered by both levels of government making it financially difficult for patients to access GP care.

The Australian Medical Association Queensland also rejected Mr Miles’ comments, calling him reckless for trying to blame GPs for issues at public hospitals.

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AMAQ President Dr Chris Perry said instead acting on doctor’s warnings about mounting capacity pressures, Mr Miles made unfounded claims about GPs turning away suspected Covid-19 patients.

“GPs are continuing to care for respiratory patients around the state,” he said.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said earlier this week capacity pressures were being caused by virus patients and health staff isolating, long-stay patients who couldn’t be discharged because they lacked access to home care and capacity problems at GP clinics.

“When you can’t afford private health insurance, when you can’t get into private specialists, when you cannot access GPs, when you cannot get an NDIS package, when you cannot get the support you need in aged care, you turn to the public health system,” she said.

D’Ath called on the next federal government to match the state’s funding for healthcare on a 50-50 basis.

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