AMA says new chronic disease data shows why government needs to invest more

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The AMA says new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has revealed that more Australians are living longer with the burden of chronic disease.

According to the 'Australian Burden of Disease Study 2022', people experienced more burden from living with illness than premature death - 52 per cent compared to 48 per cent.

Coronary heart disease, dementia, back pain, COPD, and anxiety disorders were the top five diseases causing burden in 2022. However, cancers were the group of diseases causing the most burden (17 per cent).

The AMA says the study shows why the federal government needs to invest more in health.

AMA president Professor Stephen Robson said the increase in the number of people living with chronic disease is further burdening an already overstretched health system — from primary care settings to hospitals and aged care.

“We see this play out day after day across our entire health system with people unable to access the primary care they need when they need it and ending up in our hospitals as a result,” said Professor Robson.

“One of the startling figures to come out of this report is the fact that anxiety disorders are now in the top five diseases creating a burden on the health system. This is particularly affecting young people.

“We need investment in preventative care across the board, particularly in mental health if we are to prevent more and more patients unnecessarily ending up in hospitals as revealed in the AMA’s recent public hospital report card (mental health edition). Hospitals are not the right place for these and other patients who could be treated in the community with the right support.”

Professor Robson said GPs have not received the support they need from successive governments.

“The healthcare needs of patients have become more complex as the population has aged, yet Medicare is stuck in the 1980s. As outlined in the AMA’s plan to Modernise Medicare, we need serious reform to put general practice on a more sustainable footing, capable of delivering the type of care that patients now need.”

Professor Robson said better-resourced GPs would allow clinics to open after hours and help take pressure off hospital emergency departments.

“Now more than ever patients need to be able to spend time with their GP to ensure their health conditions are properly assessed and treated.”