Health of the Nation: Indispensable snapshot of general practice

Morgan Liotta

24/04/2020 2:43:06 PM

GPs who take part in the annual survey from 30 April will help provide a unique overview of Australian general practice.

Female doctor on phone
Comprehensive data is need to highlight the essential role GPs play in the health of our nation, RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said.

This year’s General Practice: Health of the Nation report is expected to shine a spotlight on how COVID-19 has impacted GPs and their patients, and the RACGP is asking its Fellows how they have been impacted by the pandemic and how they have used telehealth to support their delivery of care.
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon told newsGP the report underlines the vital role primary care plays in the health of all Australians, particularly during the unprecedented era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘GPs are the foundation of healthcare delivery within Australia, with the majority of us seeing our GP several times a year,’ he said.
‘It is essential we continue to understand and support the lifelong care GPs deliver to Australian communities.
‘GPs play an important role, and we need data to fully highlight this with policymakers in government. The Health of the Nation survey aims to deliver this.’
Data collected in the survey provides insight through facts and emerging trends across general practice ­­– from both a patient and GP perspective – highlighting its strengths and focus areas, and those that require further policy action.
Recent events, in particular the summer bushfires and current pandemic, have presented a uniquely challenging time for all, with both physical and mental health affected, Dr Nespolon said.
National data from the 2019 Health of the Nation report confirmed that mental health issues remain the number one reason people visit their GP in Australia, with the trend expected to further increase in the 2020 data.
‘This year’s survey will help us gain an even deeper understanding of what drives the Australian healthcare sector, with a particular focus on how GPs were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,’ Dr Nespolon said.
As the only comprehensive sector-led annual study of Australian general practice, Health of the Nation provides a diagnosis for the future of the profession, GPs and their patients.
Collection of up-to-date and relevant data from the survey will inform the report and its influence in Australian health policy, drawing a roadmap for what the future holds for the profession, and the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
Dr Nespolon cites the importance of the report in demonstrating the RACGP’s advocacy for Australia’s GPs and their patients.
‘The RACGP’s vision for a healthy Australia is founded on the knowledge, experience and passion of our members,’ he said.
‘Your responses to the survey will influence our submissions to state and federal governments and support our advocacy for Australian general practice.’
Key objectives of the 2020 Health of the Nation report are to raise awareness of:

  • the RACGP and its members among state and federal governments, other healthcare organisations and the community
  • how GPs were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and how they were supported by state and federal governments
  • how the COVID-19 pandemic affected patients’ access to care
  • what GPs and their patients need from political leaders to improve primary healthcare, including economic support and further implementation of technology
  • the impact the report findings have on Australian health policy.
The Health of the Nation survey will be sent to all RACGP Fellows on 30 April and will be open until midnight Sunday 17 May.
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