Where is Australia’s shared vision for primary care?

Edwin Kruys

12/02/2019 3:46:30 PM

With a federal election on the horizon, Dr Edwin Kruys argues for better collaboration in primary care.

Dr Kruys believes Australia is lacking a shared, long-term primary care vision.
Dr Kruys believes Australia is lacking a shared, long-term primary care vision.

It always amazes me that a country with a population the size of Australia’s has so many general practice bodies and primary care organisations.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with groups that have their own expertise, training programs or focus within primary care, but poor communication and lack of coordinated advocacy efforts are holding the sector back.
For that reason, I was pleased to see that some of this year’s pre-budget submissions by organisations representing GPs contain similar ideas. For example (and as expected), there is a strong and ongoing push for reduced patient out-of-pocket costs, as well as patient Medicare rebates that keep pace with inflation.
As a whole, the general practice profession clearly believes that spending more quality time with patients should be encouraged through better remuneration of longer consultations. The pre-budget submissions also ask for funding for telehealth services to enable technology-based contact with patients via email, phone or video consultations.
But that’s where the similarities end. When it comes to health reform, there is historically a glaring lack of collaboration among professional groups.
For example, the Australian Medical Association is proposing a chronic disease quarterly care coordination payment to GPs in order to support team-based care.
The RACGP is advocating for more comprehensive reform that includes blended funding based on a revision of the RACGP’s Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia wants to embed pharmacists in residential aged care facilities and add pharmacists to the list of eligible allied health professionals that can deliver Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) services to patients under the chronic disease management program.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of merit in many of the proposals and they are often not mutually exclusive.
But what’s lacking is a shared, long-term primary care vision for Australia.
Our various professional bodies and organisations don’t always support the proposals from other primary care groups. This undermines profession-led reform by opening the sector up for divide-and-conquer politics.
It is more than time for a joint primary care vision based on shared values and goals.

election funding pre-budget submission primary care

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Dr.Gnanasegaran Xavier FRACGP N0.519256   17/02/2019 1:13:47 AM

Pharmacists have their own role to play but they should not dictate terms to the gps and they should work as a team along with the gps.They should not take over the gps role.

Dr Evan Ackermann   19/02/2019 5:21:45 PM

Edwin - It starts with the RACGP articulating its own primary health care strategy. How it sees primary health care delivered in the future, what the GP central role is etc.
You know I have been advocating this for years.