Future of general practice on the agenda at emergency summit

Morgan Liotta

4/10/2022 1:28:49 PM

The RACGP is bringing together leaders to discuss solutions to key issues related to general practice sustainability, saying ‘immediate action’ is required.

Old Parliament House, Canberra
Without immediate policy intervention to improve the sustainability of general practice, the college warns the health of the nation will suffer.

According to the RACGP, Australian general practice is ‘at breaking point’, and for this reason the college is holding an emergency summit.
The General Practice Crisis Summit, held in Canberra on 5 October, will bring together leaders from the general practice sector, local health and workforce agencies, consumer groups, government and academia to develop solutions to improve health outcomes and ensure a robust future of general practice care in Australia.
RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price said the college organised the summit in response to the ongoing lack of investment in general practice, pointing out that the latest General Practice: Health of the Nation report ‘paints a very grim picture’ of the future if action is not taken.
‘The RACGP is bringing together leaders … to collaborate and put forward meaningful solutions to the problems in front of us,’ she said.
‘We are united in our concern for the future of primary care and are coming together to collectively call for immediate action and investment in patient services, along with the reforms needed to ensure people across Australia can access the care they need.’
The 2022 Health of the Nation report highlights that 48% of GPs surveyed believe it is financially unsustainable for them to continue working in general practice.
Only 3% said the current Medicare rebates are sufficient to cover the cost of providing high-quality care, while 70% of practice owners surveyed are concerned about the ongoing viability of their practice. Additionally, almost three in four (73%) GPs reported they have experienced feelings of burnout over the past 12 months.
Less than half (49%) would currently recommend their profession as a career to their junior colleagues.
Professor Price said the summit is the latest development stemming from ongoing efforts to address the decline of general practice and the issues facing GPs and communities across Australia.
‘We are in this crisis because Australia’s general practice system has been stripped of funding and support for decades,’ she said.
‘Without decisive action, we will see more practices close their doors across Australia, more people struggle to access a GP, and bulk billing will continue to collapse – which will result in more patients delaying care and health conditions deteriorating.’
With general practice at the heart of Australian healthcare, Professor Price said a strong general practice sector will address many of the critical challenges threatening the broader health system, and government support is urgently needed.
The summit will examine key issues that need to be addressed, including exploring funding models required to best ensure equitable access to care, reversing the erosion of the GP workforce, and making general practice an attractive career choice with long-term sustainability.
‘These are complex problems, and there is no quick fix,’ Professor Price said.
‘We must act urgently and save general practice because without it, the entire health system will fail. There is no alternative workforce. We need to address the root of this crisis to ensure the future of general practice and ongoing access to high-quality care for everyone across the country.
‘I look forward to having a frank discussion with our government about the way forward to improve patient outcomes and ensure the future of general practice.’
The full day’s program includes keynote presentations from Professor Price, RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements, Professor Claire Jackson, Professor Jenny May, RACGP Expert Committee – Funding and Health System Reform Chair Dr Michael Wright, Dr Steve Hambleton and Clinical Associate Professor Louise Stone.
Three working group discussions will examine solutions to the following questions:

  • What funding model is required to support general practice’s leading role in providing patient-centred, continuous and coordinated care, and to ensure equitable access to this care?
  • How can we address and reverse the erosion of the general practice workforce, ensuring general practice is an attractive career path with long-term career sustainability?
  • How can we improve the capture, linkage and meaningful use of data (including patient experience, clinician experience and quality patient outcomes) to support equitable general practice-based care?
The RACGP will release the solutions from the summit in a White Paper in coming weeks.
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Dr Benjamin Weiss   5/10/2022 6:45:20 AM

Why don't you get some real GPs to give their opinion as why GP is a dying profession.The CPD program is ridiculous as GPs with over 30 experience do not need wasting their leisure time on CPD now annually.How do you think they kept up with new technology in their first 30 yrs without interference from the medical board and RACGP. I am retiring at the end of this year from GP and so are 3 of my colleges at the same golf club as we are sick of the bureaucracy. Keep going the way you are and there will be no GPs and as in USA you just go straight to a specialist depending on your complaint.With your programs you are encouraging GPs to retire.

Dr Joseph Dinesh Rodriguge Fernando   5/10/2022 6:47:51 AM

If the government doesn’t listen to us , why can’t we stop working for one day ? It will attract lots of attention from media and the people.

Dr Allan Phillips   5/10/2022 9:34:27 AM

I agree totally with the sentiments of Dr Weiss. After 43 years in private General Practice I have had enough of the bureaucracy, paperwork and other meaningless impositions . The 2023 CPD requirements will mean that many GP’s of my vintage will simply say “all too hard” and retire.

Dr Ponnuthurai Paransothy   5/10/2022 9:58:19 AM

I also support the idea of Dr Joseph Dinesh Rodriguge Fernando. We must do at least 01 day strike to express our strength and burn out to the politicians and public.
Is it reasonable!

Dr Slavko Doslo   5/10/2022 10:46:07 AM

I plan to retire 5 y earlier than planned, too much " big brother" and red tapes,
GP looks to me like punch bag for someone
Politician should stay away from general practice and medicine all together.

Dr Anne Jocelyn McMahon   5/10/2022 8:56:27 PM

I totally agree with Dr Weiss. I’m in a similar position.
I love continuing to learn, attend conferences( when I can get away) etc but the new CPD requirements seem to have very little relevance to my ongoing learning or my day to day practice. They seem very much to comprise yet another “tick the box” exercise dreamed up by some office bound bureaucrat with little practical knowledge of any general practice, let alone solo, rural practice.
I, too, am considering earlier than planned retirement for this very reason.

Dr Felix Bisterbosch   5/10/2022 9:30:04 PM

Yes , a strike is needed; the GP's striked for one day in the Netherlands in the 90'ties and it impressed the public and the politicians greatly.

Dr Ian   6/10/2022 2:52:35 PM

An compensatory rise in rebates compensating for the freezes first stated by the Labour Party with the statement to the effect “ The GPS are well enough to cope with the freeze “ .
Fifty percent compensation over three ought be a minimum demand .
Labour started the Freeze, Labour ought mend the damage caused .
Starting soon the number of people admitted to train in medicine needs to be increased so that in the decade forward the number of General Practices is replenished with retirees providing a mentor knowledge .