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How did the college advocate for members last month?


Michael Wright


15/06/2021 2:11:56 PM

The Federal Budget, pharmacy prescribing and new dedicated MBS item numbers for smoking cessation all elicited an RACGP response.

RACGP sign.
The RACGP made a number of submissions to the Department of Health during May.

The 2021–22 Federal Budget was released last month and included funding allocations of 17.7 billion for aged care, $2.3 billion for mental health care and suicide prevention, as well as $1.8 billion for primary healthcare.
 
In response, the RACGP produced a formal Budget Overview for members, and has also been strongly arguing for the Federal Government to distribute an additional $448.5 million to GPs.
 
This funding commitment was announced in the 2019–20 Federal Budget for the now delayed implementation of voluntary patient enrolment for Australians aged 70 and over, and we are negotiating with Government to ensure this funding is used to support general practice services.
 
The next opportunity for significant general practice investment will be the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and the upcoming Federal Election.
 
The budget also incorporated the Government’s formal response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which acknowledged that strong action is needed for fundamental and ambitious reforms in the aged care sector.
 
However, several key issues raised previously by the RACGP remain unaddressed.
 
These include ongoing concerns regarding the new primary care model proposed by the aged care royal commission, support needed for unremunerated work by GPs in the aged care sector, and ongoing MBS funding for flexible delivery of GP services, such as via telehealth, for patients in residential aged care facilities (RACFs).
 
Submissions
The RACGP provided a submission to the Department of Health’s (DoH) Medical Benefits Division on proposed new temporary MBS items for nicotine smoking cessation.
 
The college cautiously supported the proposal, given that the item numbers are temporary. However, in general, the RACGP does not support the introduction of single disease-focused MBS items, as they are not consistent with the holistic approach to care GPs provide.
 
The submission outlines how supporting patient access to comprehensive, continuous general practice care, where a patient and their GP can determine which assessments and interventions are required to support the patient to remain well, should be a higher health funding priority. 
 
We also did not support an exemption to the existing relationship requirement for the use of telehealth for smoking cessation, given that accessing this type of care from a patient’s usual GP is critical to engaging, influencing and supporting the patient to give up nicotine.
 
There is a risk that an exemption will result in online-only services and will fragment care.
 
The RACGP also provided a submission to a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) proposal to down-schedule oral contraceptives and permit pharmacist prescribing in limited circumstances.
 
The college opposed the proposal and noted that high level of GP accessibility, which has also increased recently with the now widespread use of telehealth and e-prescribing, makes pharmacist prescribing of these medications unnecessary. Potential risks to patient safety and quality of care were also outlined.
 
Finally, on 17 May, RACGP representative Dr Rachael Sutherland attended a Financial Services Roundtable (FSC) on Mental Health and Life Insurance.
 
The biannual event, which has been held since 2017 with life insurance industry and mental health industry stakeholders, aims to progress common goals with respect to mental health in life insurance.
 
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Dr James Courts   16/06/2021 7:52:47 AM

Bulk billing GPs unless racking and stacking will earn less than a NDIS Physio.

The rate for example for a home visit Covid vaccine is laughable, what trade could you get to your home for that amount?

Stop fiddling around the edges with idiotic additional mbs items and push for the uplift in consult items to at least the same as the pay uplift for MPs.

RACGP membership will dwindle and your poor ability to advocate will be further reduced.

I can no longer hand on heart recommend a career in GP to my medical students.