AMAQ urges government to address practitioner shortages

MOST New Year resolutions consist of weight loss, health kicks, spending more time with family or being fiscally responsible.

But for the Australian Medical Association Queensland, 2013 is about openness, solving regional doctor shortages and reducing the countless victims of alcohol-related injury.

The AMA has released a comprehensive list of priorities for the New Year and has urged the State Government to take on board its vision for Queensland's health system.

Topping the list is extra resources to address the medical practitioner shortage, particularly in regional and rural areas.

The AMA suggests the gaps can be addressed through guaranteeing internship positions to local and international full-fee paying medical students at Queensland universities.

In November, the Federal and State Governments struck a deal to fund an extra 58 internship doctor positions in Queensland in 2013 to offer 723 internships in total.

It was reported at the time that about 26 full-fee paying international students in Queensland, without an internship next year, would be unable to work as doctors in Australia.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the government was committed to internships for all domestic students but international students on commonwealth visas were a commonwealth responsibility.

After a turbulent year of service and job cuts across Queensland Health, the AMA is calling for greater transparency from health and hospital service boards.

AMA Queensland president Dr Alex Markwell said regional hospital and health service boards were grappling with their budgets to make ends meet.

"The State Government needs to be honest with the public about what services it can't afford and start partnering with doctors to identify and rationalise services and get the health system back on track," she said.

"The regional hospital and health services boards have been grappling with their budgets for six months and, following the recent federal funding clawback, all we hear about is cuts and redundancies in order to make ends meet."

In a bid to steady the flow of men and women who pour into hospitals with alcohol and drug-fuelled injuries, the AMA is calling for a focus on reducing avoidable trauma.

The Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit estimates 4000 patients with alcohol-related injuries go to emergency departments around the state for treatment each year.

Youths between 18 and 24 years of age make up 30% of all alcohol-influenced injuries and 40% of the injuries are from assaults.

In 2011 the QISU recommended the government broaden its focus from alcohol-related injuries in licensed venues to across all environments.

The Health Minister's spokesman preferred mass media campaigns to address problem areas such as alcohol abuse and obesity.

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