Federal Budget: RACGP calls for more to be done in general practice

Paul Hayes

2/04/2019 9:10:29 PM

President Dr Harry Nespolon said greater investment is needed to improve primary care and patient health outcomes.

Parliament House in Canberra
‘We must see a change in healthcare priorities if we want to see Australians continue to be healthy and active participants in society,’ Dr Nespolon said.

‘As President of the RACGP, I have been firmly advocating for a sustainable future for general practice,’ Dr Harry Nespolon said.
‘These calls are starting to cut through the political noise and, while the announcements today are not enough to secure a healthy future for general practice, they are a positive move in the right direction.’
The Federal Government has announced it will provide $201.5 million in additional funding over five years to support practices administering the Practice Incentive Payment–Quality Improvement (PIP–QI), and for maintaining PIP Aged Care.
‘The RACGP is pleased to see that a number of concerns it raised regarding the proposed PIP–QI have been addressed, including the provision of additional funding,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘Addressing these concerns was central to RACGP supporting the program.’
The Government also allocated $187.2 million over four years from 2019–20 to re-introduce indexation to all remaining GP services on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
‘While this is welcome, it won’t repair the damage caused by the Medicare rebate freeze over successive governments,’ Dr Nespolon said.
The Budget includes a provision of $448.5 million over three years to allow patients aged over 70 to voluntarily enrol with their general practice.
‘The RACGP commends the Australian Government on looking at new ways to better support our patients with the most complex needs,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘For every patient that enrols, the practice will receive a payment to support flexible care models. This may include a phone call following up with a specialist, email communications with the patient, telephone consultations, checking in with a family member or carer, or other related items that are essential for quality care but are unsupported by current MBS funding.
‘The announcement begins to acknowledge the full extent of what a general practice does when caring for a patient.’
The RACGP also welcomed the Government’s allocation of $62 million in funds to fast-track a rural generalist pathway for trainee doctors.
‘This pathway will play a key role in ensuring Australians living in rural and regional communities have access to a highly trained GP who understands their individual needs and circumstances,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘The specific training for rural generalist GPs will ensure that GPs and registrars have the right skills to practice in rural settings and can address the shifting needs of rural and remote communities.’
Other Budget announcements include $45 million for primary healthcare research, which has been described as a ‘long overdue investment’.
‘In the coming Federal Election, the RACGP will be standing up for patients and practitioners, and will call on all sides of politics to properly invest in primary care,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘We must see a change in healthcare priorities if we want to see Australians continue to be healthy and active participants in society.’

federal budget funding general practice

Login to comment

Dr Daniel Thomas Byrne   2/04/2019 10:45:33 PM

Harry. Keep the pressure up. The devil is in the detail of course. I reckon I won’t be bulk billing children soon as the basic Medicare rebates are so low. The carrots are with the chronic disease cohort.