Celebrating GPs’ contribution: World Family Doctor Day

Morgan Liotta

20/05/2024 2:59:33 PM

The RACGP President thanks Australia’s GPs for ‘keeping the engine running’ of our ‘world-class’ health system.

GP standing in practice room
Each year almost nine in 10 Australians visit a GP, with continuity of care shown to have strong short- and long-term health benefits.

The RACGP is acknowledging the unique and valuable role GPs play in the health system, to mark World Family Doctor Day.
This year, WONCA’s World Family Doctor Day on 19 May focuses on the link between the health of the planet and the health of patients, under the theme ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’.
In Australia, GPs are being celebrated for helping people lead healthier lives, with RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins saying the expertise and contributions they provide can often go unrecognised.
‘The role GPs play in our health system is unique. GPs are the only specialists who provide whole-person care, from the start of life right up until the end,’ she said.  
‘Many people don’t realise GPs are specialists. We do the same eight years medical training as any other medical specialist, plus at least three years training in a practice to specialise as a GP.
‘Research shows the value of the GP–patient relationship, and how it results in better health. People who have a regular GP have less hospital admissions and live longer, healthier lives.’  
Dr Higgins also highlighted the fact GPs are the most visited health professional in the country, with the latest Health of the Nation report revealing that in 2022, more than 22 million Australians received 179 million services from GPs and on average, patients received 7.9 episodes of care from their GP throughout the year.  Each year, almost nine in 10 Australians visit a GP.
The annual World Family Doctor Day was officially declared in 2010 by WONCA, who says this day is ‘an excellent opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the progress made in family medicine and the exceptional contributions of primary care teams globally’.
Dr Higgins said it is especially important to honour and appreciate the tireless efforts of GPs and practice teams in improving healthcare outcomes across communities, and helping to futureproof Australia’s healthcare system, of which GPs are at the centre.
‘General practice is also the most cost-effective form of care – it costs taxpayers over $600 when someone goes to hospital, before they’re even admitted, whereas it’s only $80 for 40 minutes with a GP,’ she said.
‘GPs are needed now more than ever. Our demographics show that we have an ageing population, and nearly half of all Australians are living with chronic illness, including mental health issues.  
‘This means more people require complex, ongoing care in the community from a GP, who knows them and works together with other specialists, allied health, nurses, and pharmacists to ensure they get the best care, and just as importantly, the right care, at the right time. 
‘This World Family Doctor Day, I want to thank all our GPs for their contributions in helping Australians live healthier and longer and keeping the engine of our world-class health system running.’
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