Call to boost primary care to help patients in need

Call for patients not to delay imaging tests

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is calling on Australia’s leaders to boost investment in primary care to improve the health of the nation.

“The long-term health consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic are unknown but likely to be severe,” says RACGP spokesperson, Dr Bruce Willett.

“That includes the effects of patients delaying or avoiding care, an increase in mental health concerns and the impacts of the virus itself on long-term physical and mental wellbeing.”

Dr Willett adds that giving “general practice a shot in the arm” is important, especially now given that “primary care will be absolutely essential in managing the health of our communities”.

“Each year, GPs provide care to nearly 90% of Australians, yet general practice represents less than 13% of Federal Government health expenditure.

“This must change now because GPs provide the long-term care needed to improve the health trajectory of patients, keeping them well and out of hospital.

“The pandemic has placed an enormous strain on our healthcare system and led many people suffering from poorer health outcomes – if we want to get on top of these problems, we need to boost investment in primary care,” says Dr Willett.

In December 2019, the RACGP released its 2020-21 Federal pre-budget submission.

Following policy and funding decisions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the RACGP has raised matters for urgent consideration in its 2020-21 pre-budget update submission.

The RACGP is calling on the government to:

  • Extend Medicare subsidies for telehealth and telephone consultations beyond 30 September 2020.
  • Implement voluntary patient enrolment to enhance continuity of care.
  • Help GPs care for patients with chronic and complex conditions via longer consultations.
  • Provide additional Medicare subsidies for mental health consultations.

The RACGP’s Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system outlines how greater investment in primary care will reduce the need for more expensive secondary care and enhance the nation’s productivity through a healthier workforce.

It will also promote health equity for demographic groups who disproportionately rely on secondary care including treatment in hospitals.