Federal Budget: RACGP says GPs need more help managing Australia’s health crises

Paul Hayes

6/10/2020 4:43:12 PM

Properly funded general practice will be vital in helping keep patients – and the country – healthy, RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said.

Federal Budget cover page
The RACGP will be working closely with the Government ahead of upcoming budget announcements in order to ensure the health of Australians is front and centre. (Image: AAP)

The RACGP has urged the Federal Government to help general practice successfully manage the long-term health effects of the summer bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic.
‘None of us have experienced a health crisis like this before. It has been an incredibly trying time and the effects … will continue for years to come,’ Acting RACGP President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said following the release of the 2020–21 Federal Budget said.
‘The long-term health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will fall on primary care, so we expect a greater investment in primary care from the Government next year.
‘Support for general practice care will we see a healthier community and, in turn, a healthier economy with more people participating in the workplace.’
The Government announced it is developing options to adopt telehealth beyond the COVID pandemic – ‘to make permanent that which we have on a temporary basis,’ Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said – with $18.6 million set aside for work towards system changes to support future reform.
Having recently welcomed the announcement that Medicare subsidies for telehealth will be extended, Associate Professor Shenouda said the RACGP will work closely with the Government on a continuing solution for telehealth beyond March 2021.
‘We cannot be sure what path the COVID-19 pandemic will take, but we know that the long-term health consequences will be severe,’ he said.
Associate Ayman Shenouda is also happy to see much needed funding for mental health.

‘The $100.8 million invested in extending the doubling of Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people who have used their initial 10 sessions is very positive,’ he said.
‘In the longer term, patients would benefit enormously from new Medicare subsidies for longer consultations so GPs can take the time to talk through what their patients are experiencing and how we can help them.
‘The summer’s bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic are having a huge impact on the mental health of many. GPs are the first port of call for these patients and if we are not adequately resourced to provide timely, accessible and culturally appropriate mental health services, the results could prove dire.’
Elsewhere in the Budget, the Government announced an investment of $550 million for the Stronger Rural Health Strategy, including:

  • $125 million (from 2020–21 to 2024–25) for the Rural, Regional and Remote Clinical Trial Enabling Infrastructure Program under the Medical Research Future Fund
  • $50.3 million to build on and expand the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program
  • $3.3 million (2020–21 to 2021–22) to test for new models of primary care to address rural workforce shortages.
The Budget also includes $33 million over three years for the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program, as well as $14.4 million provided through the first grant round of the Indigenous Health Research Fund.
The RACGP applauded the $424.3 million set aside for new medical research grants, with $10 million earmarked for primary care.
Associate Professor Shenouda said the RACGP will be working closely with the Government ahead of upcoming budget announcements in order to ensure the health of Australians is kept front and centre.
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Dr Phillip Seeley   7/10/2020 2:48:08 PM

Yes, everyone is frayed, carers and patients alike. We all need TLC and mental health support. It is happening as evidenced by the patients requesting MHCPlans and the long wait for visits. Perhaps the psychologists deserve incentives to work longer and harder also?