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Renewed call to provide more support for longer consultations


Matt Woodley


8/03/2022 5:40:54 PM

Respondents to a recent newsGP poll have said the change is needed to better serve Australian women.

Female GP talking to a female patient.
Women often require complex care that takes time and female GPs are more likely to conduct these longer consultations than men.

Correction: This article was updated at 11.20 am on Wednesday 9 March to remove an erroneous reference stating that 59% of the general practice workforce is women. According to the most recent Medical Board of Australia statistics, the ration is closer to 50:50.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, newsGP conducted a poll that asked a simple question: what is the most pressing change needed in general practice to better serve Australia women?
 
Selecting from four options, nearly two in three respondents identified one area as the most important – increased Medicare patient rebates for longer consultations.
 
For RACGP President Dr Karen Price, the poll results were not surprising.
 
‘As a woman and a GP, I completely understand why our members see support for longer consultations as the most pressing change needed in general practice to better serve women,’ she said.
 
‘And it ties in with one of the key missions of International Women’s Day, which is to assist women to be in a position of power to make informed decisions about their health.’
 
Dr Price says ‘all GPs know’ that quality care requires time, especially as an important part of the job is to notice ‘the little things’ and start conversations that can make a material difference to patient health and wellbeing.
 
‘This is especially true when it comes to women patients who may be experiencing complex and sensitive issues, including sexual and reproductive issues, diverse forms of abuse and violence and mental health concerns,’ she said.
 
‘This is also why the RACGP has been calling for the Federal Government to invest in patient rebates for longer consultations.
 
‘The pandemic has exacerbated cracks in the health system that were already evident, particularly GP visits that are too short for the complex cases we are increasingly seeing.
 
‘When it comes to women, we are seeing more and more coming forward with mental health concerns and anxiety, and we know the pandemic also impacted on people experiencing violence.’
 
Aside from higher patient rebates for longer consultations, 14% of respondents identified better access to sexual and reproductive health services as the most pressing change required, followed by enhanced preventive health screening programs (12%), and more female GPs (7%).
 
But while the college used International Women’s Day as a platform to advocate for better healthcare, Dr Price was also keen to acknowledge Australia’s female GPs and their achievements.
 
‘Women GPs are breaking bias every day in Australia,’ she said.

‘They are working in cities and rural areas in a profession that was traditionally seen as “men’s work”, and they are truly valued by their patients and communities.’
 
Rural and remote RACGP members also now have a new gender inclusive Rural Women in General Practice committee that they can join, which aims to elevate, empower and encourage women working in rural practice.
 
‘Together we will work to identify and meet the unique interests, challenges and needs of rural women GPs and empower them to reach their full professional capacity, and in turn supporting rural communities,’ Dr Price said.
 
‘On a personal note, I am very proud that our profession has so many inspirational women GPs in the field with laudable achievements to their name.
 
‘They’ve established new practices, advanced research, contributed to diverse general practice specialties, such as addiction medicine, family violence and abuse, and excelled in leadership roles, in general practice and beyond.
 
‘We can all look up to these women and be inspired by them.’
 
Members can attend an online member meet-up in April to find out more about the RACGP’s inclusive Rural Women in General Practice committee.
 
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Day International Women's


newsGP weekly poll Have you been subjected to patient violence during your work as a GP?
 
70%
 
29%
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newsGP weekly poll Have you been subjected to patient violence during your work as a GP?

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