Calls for increased funding for longer consultations

Evelyn Lewin

26/03/2019 1:19:14 PM

GPs are calling for at least an 18.5% increase in funding for consultations longer than 20 minutes.

GP consultation
‘When my patient walks in the door, I want to make sure that no-one has their eye on the clock and that we can focus on what my patient needs,’ RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said.

‘This must urgently change, so that we can keep our patients healthy.’
That is RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon calling on Australia’s politicians to increase Medicare funding for general practice consultations that run for longer than 20 minutes.
Currently, the longer a patient spends with their GP, the less rebate that patient receives. This situation naturally disadvantages patients with complex conditions who, according to Dr Nespolon, are effectively penalised for longer consultations.
He is therefore asking all sides of politics to commit to at least an 18.5% increase in Medicare funding for longer consultations.

‘Otherwise I am fearful general practice will not be able to keep delivering the healthcare Australia deserves,’ Dr Nespolon said. ‘GPs who do offer longer consultations need to increase their fees to ensure that they can cover the costs of providing care where Medicare falls short.
‘When my patient walks in the door, I want to make sure that no-one has their eye on the clock and that we can focus on what my patient needs.’
In its Pre-budget submission 2019–20, the RACGP advocated for the Government to commit to supporting high-quality care for those who need it most. That included committing to increase the value of Level C and Level D GP consultations by 18.5%, to align with rebates for other medical specialists.
In the RACGP recommendations on professional attendances items used in general practice, the college also called for a Level E consultation, a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item for GPs to spend more than 60 minutes with their patients.

‘Ironically, it is often those patients who need longer consultations that cannot afford to pay more for their care,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘If a patient is out of work because of a complex health issue and can’t afford additional healthcare costs, what are they expected to do? There is simply just not enough support provided through Medicare to support these patients.
‘As a result, these patients often delay seeking the healthcare they need, meaning they take longer to recover and are prevented from actively participating in society for longer.’

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Dr Arshad Merchant   27/03/2019 8:39:00 AM

RACGP is barking the wrong tree, Medicare is not going to increase the rebate & RACGP needs to understand their is no easy way to fund increasing healthcare costs. Like AMA specialist fees and rebate structure, college should propose its own fee structure.. it will help government as well as GP’s to sustain without burnout

Dr Hema iyer   27/03/2019 9:05:09 AM

What about the new item for 15 minutes consults where most common consults with elderly end up and if you work in a lower socioeconomic area you still get paid only level B .there should be a level between B and c for lasting consults more then 10 minutes but less then 20 minutes. Remuneration can be about 50 $.otherwise doctors who mainly see complex cases and provide wholiestic care end up the the loosers financially compared to their colleagues who practise one problem per consult.

Dr. Nadiesh Seneviratne   27/03/2019 7:16:54 PM

Agree with Dr. Arshad. Rather than begging government to increase medicare benefit and stop medicare rebate freeze RACGP should ask all members to charge a nominal fee at least from people who can efford to pay. ( Eg : Except DVA, Pension and healthcare card holders and children ) Government is in no pressure as bulkbilling percentage is so high.

Dr Dan Hobbs   28/03/2019 9:02:36 AM

Agree Hema, the current system rewards quick medicine and penalises those who spend time doing in-depth care.

Dr David Zhi Qiang Yu   28/03/2019 10:47:16 PM

I agree to ask all sides of politics to commit to at least an 20% increase in Medicare funding for longer consultations prior to the election.