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‘Let’s make general practice the most important issue at this election’: RACGP President


Evelyn Lewin


20/03/2019 1:50:57 PM

Dr Harry Nespolon has called for the next Federal Government to make a genuine commitment to the future of primary healthcare.

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The RACGP has called for action in several key areas to ensure that general practice is affordable and accessible.

‘As we come up to the election, there is going to be a lot of discussion on what can be done within healthcare. What we need is bipartisan commitment to the long-term funding of what is the most efficient and effective part of the healthcare system,’ RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said.
 
‘Governments need to understand that when it comes to healthcare, keeping people productive and healthy doesn’t happen within hospitals, it happens, every day, in the consultation rooms of local general practices.
 
‘If we do not see action, general practice will not be able to keep delivering quality preventive, acute and chronic care. This will lead to increased hospital use and costs.
 
‘This election can’t be about hospitals or pathology providers – it has to be about general practice.
 
‘Let’s make general practice the most important issue at this election.’
 
The RACGP has called for action in four key areas to ensure that general practice is affordable and accessible:

  • Modernise medicine through improved use of technology in healthcare delivery
  • Address increasing patient out-of-pocket costs by ensuring patient rebates reflect the true cost of providing care
  • Improve supports for mental healthcare delivered by general practitioners, and
  • Recognise and support the time and skill required to work through complex health issues
‘One thing is certain, if we do not see action in the areas where we are calling for change, general practice will not be able to keep delivering quality preventive, acute and chronic care. This will lead to increased hospital use and costs,’ Dr Nespolon said.

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‘This election can’t be about hospitals or pathology providers – it has to be about general practice,’ RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said.
 
Dr Nespolon has also renewed his calls for college members to visit their local members of parliament (MPs) and election candidates, to ensure politicians understand the issues impacting general practice.
 
His aim is to safeguard Medicare and ensure no Australian has to miss a doctor’s appointment because they can’t afford it.
 
‘Your action is the first step in the RACGP campaign to increase awareness of the real concerns that GPs have for the future of Australia’s healthcare system,’ Dr Nespolon wrote in a letter to members.
 
‘I am calling on each and every one of you to get involved. It is only by working together that we will see this and any future government take action and make the changes general practice needs to remain viable.’
 
Dr Nespolon said he will be meeting with his local MP and will continue to meet with ministerial and organisational stakeholders.
 
‘But your words as local GPs are often the most effective in achieving real change,’ he wrote.
 
Considering two million Australians visit their GP each week, Dr Nespolon believes issues of primary healthcare will be a vote-decider in the Federal Election, which is due to be called next month.
 
‘If push comes to shove, that is enough to swing the safest of seats,’ he wrote.
 
Last month, the RACGP used its 2019–20 pre-budget submission to call for ‘significant and immediate’ investment to safeguard general practice and address increasing patient out-of-pocket costs by ensuring rebates ‘reflect the true cost of providing care’.
 
According to the submission, average patient out-of-pocket costs for a GP visit increased by 30% over the last five years; however, since 2005–06 patient out-of-pocket costs have increased by 140%, yet patient rebates (for the most commonly billed GP item, MBS item 23) only increased by 19% over the same period.
 
A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) published in August 2018, found that an estimated 1.3 million people said the cost of services was the reason they delayed or did not seek care, including GP services, when needed.



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Malcolm McKelvie   21/03/2019 7:24:44 AM

I'd rather we made the climate emergency the most important issue at the election.


Ann Tullgren   27/03/2019 2:37:21 PM

Yes, health care funding will be perhapsthe most important issue at the election, and yes, the Medicare rebate should be lifted. As someone who pays over 50% of the Medicare rebate to see the GP, change is certainly needed. However, what is also needed is a change in how GPs process payment. The usual method is for patients to firstly pay for the account in full before the Medicare rebate is processed, rather than process the rebate and then the patient pays the gap. The usual process causes hardship. We have, on occasion, delayed seeing the GP because of insufficient money in the bank. Your campaign might also encourage GPs to make things easier for patients by changing billing practices.


Ann Tullgren   27/03/2019 2:39:24 PM

Please remove my name from the comment I have just sent you if you wish to put it on the website. Thanks.


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