Diabetes policies should reflect GPs’ ‘central role’: RACGP

Jolyon Attwooll

5/10/2023 5:03:38 PM

The college has put forward 17 recommendations which it says ‘would greatly contribute’ to better diabetes care.

GP checking patient's blood sugar
The RACGP has said that there should be investment into digital technologies to show the role they can play in diabetes management.

Embedding social prescribing into general practice care and incentivising point-of-care tests are among a series of recommendations the RACGP has made to the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Diabetes.
The college document includes 17 recommendations, which according to its submission ‘would greatly contribute to improving the care of people with diabetes’.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said the submission urges policymakers to put strategies in place that reflect GPs’ critical work caring for patients with diabetes.
‘GPs play a central role in prevention, as well as diagnosis and management of diabetes,’ she said.
‘We know that early detection is key to optimal health outcomes, as is ongoing management by a GP, working with a multidisciplinary team.’
Care also needs to be affordable and accessible for everyone, Dr Higgins states.
‘The Government should invest in shared care models and enable GPs to work at the top of their scope of practice collaboratively and effectively in multidisciplinary teams,’ she said.
‘For example, GPs should be able to certify glucose monitoring forms, and it would make life a lot easier for patients if they could. But we are held back by regulatory red tape.
‘People would also benefit significantly if there was support for lifestyle interventions including social prescribing.’
The recommendations in the RACGP submission include:

  • investment in shared care models to help the management of comorbidities along with diabetes
  • allowing GPs to certify continuous and flash glucose monitoring forms
  • incentivising point-of-care testing in general practice
  • increasing MBS patient rebates, including standard ones and longer consultations to facilitate complex care
  • funding for lifestyle interventions such as social prescribing
  • supporting culturally appropriate strategies for diabetes management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • developing a national nutrition policy with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ needs
  • investing in new approaches to understand the role of digital technologies can play in diabetes management and prevention
  • funding for regular updates or living guidelines to support GPs and other health professionals caring for patients.
In 2021, more than 1.3 million Australians were believed to be living with diabetes, excluding gestational diabetes.
That prevalence rises significantly with age, with almost one in five of people from 80–84 thought to be affected, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The AIHW also suggests that official figures could understate the disease’s true prevalence.
Diabetes was the underlying cause in around 5100 deaths in 2020, and contributed to around 17,500 more. Most of those were linked to type 2 diabetes.
The inquiry was referred to the House of Representatives committee by Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler in May.
‘With diabetes being one of the fastest growing chronic diseases in Australia, it’s critical that we get health policy right,’ Dr Higgins said.
‘Investing in care in the community, including prevention will not only result in better health outcomes, it will mean fewer people end up in hospital, which will save the health budget in the long run.’
For more details of the inquiry, see the Parliament of Australia website.
The RACGP’s clinical guidelines for managing type 2 diabetes are available on its website.
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diabetes Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Diabetes RACGP submission

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