Reform blueprint must provide GPs more support

The Primary Health Reform Steering Group draft reforms do not sufficiently address funding and support for general practice. 

The AMA has welcomed the release of a draft reform blueprint by the Government’s Primary Health Reform Steering Group, while also calling for extra funding and support for general practice as it delivers care to a community increasingly burdened by chronic disease. 

The Government’s Primary Health Reform Steering Group’s draft recommendations reflect much of the AMA’s 10 Year Framework for Primary Care Reform released in July last year, in which it stated increases to funding are needed to ensure the economic sustainability of general practice in the face of an ageing population burdened by chronic and complex disease. 

The AMA broadly agrees with the intention and direction of 20 draft recommendations that will inform the Government’s ten-year plan for primary health. In supporting these, the AMA has called on the Commonwealth to mandate expenditure on general practice at 16 per cent of its total health expenditure. Currently less than 13 per cent is spent on general practice.

This approach has been adopted in Oregon in the United States, with every additional dollar (USD) spent in primary care saving $13 in other parts of the health system.

Under successive governments, funding for general practice has not kept up with demand or the increasing costs of providing care.  Reform will be meaningless unless it is backed by substantial Commonwealth investment.

The AMA submission highlights GP services are being systematically devalued through inadequate indexation of the Medical Benefits Scheme and a consultation item structure that “fails to keep up with the growing complexity of care and the need for GPs to spend more time with their patients.”

The AMA is also calling for a for a GP-led governance structure to implement the plan.

The AMA’s full response to the draft recommendations of the Primary Health reform Steering Committee can be read here.

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