NDIS: GPs’ role definition a step closer

Morgan Liotta

2/12/2020 3:52:09 PM

The final report on NDIS planning further recognises the necessary actions to cement GPs’ role in supporting patients with disability.

Man in wheelchair talking to doctor
GPs may be involved in helping patients access the NDIS, but they are often overlooked in the planning process.

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s (NDIS) inquiry into planning has released its final report, outlining recommendations from the 2019 interim report to improve processes and further involve GPs.
The recommendations come in response to key focus areas of the NDIS plan and an ongoing spate of reported issues, including excess wait times, unclear processes, and a lack of communication among healthcare providers.
In its September 2019 submission to the inquiry, the RACGP identified that these issues all lead to fragmentation of health records for patients with disability and inappropriate supports or duplication of services. And although GPs may be involved in helping patients access the NDIS, they are often not involved in the planning process.
Ongoing college advocacy for GPs to be involved in the planning, implementation and unending support for their patients accessing the NDIS has been recognised by the committee, with the report recommending that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) investigate ways in which each participant’s plan could be shared – with their consent – with their GP.
The RACGP’s submission outlined the role of GPs in supporting patients with disability, taking into account all supports needed for participants to manage their conditions, whether at home, outpatient or inpatient settings.
The college called for the opportunity for GPs to view and discuss a draft of a patient’s NDIS plan with the patient, and provide feedback and advice to NDIS planners for consideration when finalising the plan.
It also emphasised the need for improved communication between the NDIS and general practices, and advocated for GPs to be able to make direct contact with NDIS planners, with patient consent, to advise of any issues or the need to amend their plan.
In response to the RACGP’s submission, the committee noted ‘the concerns raised by GPs that planners were referring participants to supports without first informing the participant’s GP, leading to the worry that GPs were unaware of the clinical and therapeutic supports that a participant may be accessing’.
Another barrier GPs face is access to the NDIS portal myplace, which allows participants to access and share their plans with providers via the NDIS – but does not allow GP access.
The committee proposes that the NDIA investigate ways in which GPs, with participant consent, can be sent plans either via post, through My Health Record, or other appropriate means.
The report also contributes to recognition of the RACGP’s calls to ‘adapt processes to ensure GPs are involved in the development of their patients’ NDIS plans and are provided with notifications once a plan has been implemented and/or revised’, resulting in improved patient satisfaction and health outcomes from continuity of care.
Speaking to newsGP in August following the Federal Government’s acceptance of 27 out of 29 recommendations from the 2019 Tune review, GP and disability advocate Dr James Best welcomed moves for GPs to become further involved in NDIS planning.
‘To date, GPs have virtually been excluded from the process. But the NDIS is looking at changing that and recently has been engaging with the college,’ he said.
‘We know our patients, and sometimes we know them very well and can give a great deal of information to get more targeted, more appropriate packages to these individuals and their families.
‘GPs do need to watch this space because we are going to be involved with the NDIS and I think that is fantastic.’
The RACGP’s National Disability Insurance Scheme: Information for general practitioners provides guidance for GPs in assessing patient eligibility for the NDIS and information on how to access it.
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