RACGP calls for better support for GPs providing aged care services

Paul Hayes

26/03/2018 12:22:43 PM

GPs’ central role in the care of older Australians is being compromised by a lack of proper support and resources, according to the RACGP’s submission to the Department of Health’s Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

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The RACGP believes issues of inadequate remuneration must be addressed to ensure GPs are supported to provide high-quality services to residential aged care facilities.

‘GPs are the primary providers of medical care to older people living at home or in residential aged care facilities [RACFs],’ Dr Beres Wenck, Chair of RACGP Expert Committee – General Practice Advocacy and Funding, told newsGP. ‘However, inadequate support, clinical complexity, time pressures, workforce issues and lack of infrastructure make it difficult for GPs to provide this care.’
The RACGP’s submission to the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce (the Taskforce) raises these issues for consideration, along with a number of other key concerns, including:

  • how the Taskforce can address future needs within the sector
  • the role of GPs and nurses in the aged care workforce
  • improving skills and capabilities of the aged care workforce through education and training
  • enhancing resources available to GPs in order to enable them to treat patients with dementia within their RACF or usual residential setting
  • addressing issues relating to staff turnover and ratios, remuneration and infrastructure
  • improving service integration and access to supplementary services in aged care.
In particular, the submission highlights nurses’ vital position in RACFs.
‘Registered nurses have an important role in supporting patients and GPs in RACFs,’ Dr Wenck said. ‘They must therefore be qualified to recognise, treat and escalate patient issues to the treating GP or hospital.’
The RACGP’s submission also raises the issue of proper remuneration for all healthcare practitioners who provide aged care.
‘A key issue affecting GP involvement in RACFs is the lack of remuneration for the significant amount of non-clinical work done to support patients,’ Dr Wenck said. ‘Issues with GP remuneration must be addressed to ensure that GPs are supported to provide high-quality services to patients in RACFs.
‘Nurses working in the aged care sector are also underpaid for the complex work that they do. The Taskforce must address issues with remuneration and support, to attract experienced nurses to work in these facilities, reduce reliance on agency staff and address high turnover.’
The submission considers a number of solutions for improving conditions for those working in aged care. Many of these solutions involve forging better connections between the various healthcare services within the sector.
‘GPs contend with fragmentation between allied health services, a lack of integration between general practice and RACF medical records, and duplication of diagnostic tests,’ Dr Wenck said. ‘The RACGP recommends improvements to infrastructure available to GPs within RACFs, education and training, as well as remuneration, as ways to enhance service integration.’
Join the conversation in shareGP, or email for more information on the RACGP’s submission to the Department of Health’s Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

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Christopher Daniel   27/03/2018 8:21:17 AM

I have increased my workload in aged care facilities in recent years and love the work. It is clinically and personally very rewarding. I think that GP care in this setting relies largely on goodwill; our loyalty to our patients and refusal to request additional payment from them or their families (many couldn't, or wouldn't pay even if we asked). Consequently, much of the work is unpaid. Better resourcing to support the dwindling number of GPs providing this care may encourage more to take on this vital work.

Casper Badenhorst   27/03/2018 3:06:51 PM

I agree that we are not remunerated properly for this service. Ongoing scripts, calls from homes during the day, paper work etc goes unpaid.
Next year the SIP is going to be removed. This will make this work untenable.


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