Health of the Nation: What our politicians had to say

Paul Hayes

24/09/2018 10:31:41 AM

Three of Australia’s key decision makers spoke at the launch of the RACGP’s second annual Health of the Nation report in Canberra last week.

The General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018 report was officially launched at a parliamentary breakfast in Canberra.
The General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018 report was officially launched at a parliamentary breakfast in Canberra.

As the largest medical college in Australia, the RACGP represents more than 39,000 practising and training GPs all over the country.
Its new General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018 report surveyed RACGP Fellows from all walks of life, all states and territories, and from inner cities to remote Australia.
‘The RACGP brings a methodology and evidence base to health policy to ensure that general practice can remain as the strongest part of Australia’s health system,’ RACGP President-elect Dr Harry Nespolon said at last week’s unveiling of the Health of the Nation report.
The General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018 report brings together general practice data and evidence from robust sources to compare features of general practice in Australia and paint an overall picture of the sector. It is designed to provide a snapshot of contemporary Australian general practice, as told by GPs via a commissioned survey.
The launch of the new report took place at a parliamentary breakfast in Canberra, with some of Australia’s key healthcare decision makers on hand to lend their support.
‘When we’re talking about health policy, it’s important that we acknowledge the need for all politicians to understand general practice and its requirements to stay on top of and, indeed, ahead of health issues as they arise in our communities,’ Dr Nathan Pinskier, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – eHealth and Practice Services, said at the launch.
Here’s what some of Australia’s most influential politicians had to say about the General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018 report.
The below quotes are excerpts from longer presentations.
Greg Hunt, Federal Health Minister
I am delighted to thank, honour and acknowledge our general practitioners and officially launch General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018.
This report sets out a simple proposition above all else – that the number one reason people see their GP is for mental health.
This report says we can do better if we provide additional support for mental health and additional support for doctors and nurses to seek their own mental health care.
Our two tasks together at the parliamentary level are to help in moving to not just de-stigmatisation, but to normalisation [of mental health issues], so any of us can talk about our challenges.
This report says that we can do better if we provide additional support for mental health, if we provide additional support for the doctors’ and nurses’ own mental health. If myself or a member of the opposition or any member of parliament seeks help for a mental health challenge, we can do that in privacy. But a doctor can’t, and that is wrong and that will stop.
Bill Shorten, Federal Opposition Leader
The report that we are launching … speaks to the overwhelmingly positive view that people have of their GP and of the care they provide. But it also outlines some of the big challenges facing your profession and our nation’s health, more generally.
In particular, we see issues around funding and, again, I note that the patient rebate, the Medicare rebate, is the number-one concern of practitioners.
There are ongoing concerns, wherever I go, that are echoed again in this report, about a continuing failure to prioritise preventive health.
We need to put the resources behind our GPs on the frontline now.
Richard Di Natale, Australian Greens Leader
The report is absolutely crucial reading for policy-makers in assessing the health of Australian patients – the way they interact with GPs and primary care, the state of the system.
The Health of the Nation report is pretty straightforward. It says, clearly, that primary care is great bang for your buck.
If you want to invest in healthcare, you invest in the primary healthcare sector. You invest in prevention and primary care because they are the most cost-effective ways of improving people’s health.
If we want to invest in the most cost-effective part of our health system, we do it by protecting bulk billing, by ensuring that the rebate reflects the work that [GPs] do.
We have got to start recognising that general practice is not a cost, it is an investment in health. That’s the key, the threshold decision that we need to make; that if we are going to invest in our primary healthcare system it is the most cost-effective way of improving people’s health. Prevention and primary care.

Bill Shorten Greg Hunt Health of the Nation Richard Di Natale

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