The Productivity Commission’s latest Report on Government Services shows why more investment is needed in general practice and public hospitals.
The report showed that Australians continue to highly rate the care provided by GPs with the overwhelming majority of respondents reporting GPs always listened carefully (90.7 per cent) and showed respect (94.1 per cent). 87.5 per cent of patients also felt that they were able to spend enough time with their GP, only a small decrease on last year. The report also highlighted an ageing GP workforce, showing that 26.6 per cent of full-time equivalent GPs were aged 60 years or older nationwide in 2022, compared with 2.4 per cent who were younger than 30. While there have been recent boosts to GP funding, the lack of investment over many years has contributed to a situation where Australia is significantly undersubscribed in GP training. The report also reveals significant issues with the public hospital logjam. In 2022–23, the proportion of patients staying for four hours or less in an emergency department was 55.8 per cent — a significant drop from 73.2 per cent in 2015–16.
The AMA welcomed National Cabinet's announcement last December about changes to the next hospital funding agreement in 2025. This followed tireless AMA advocacy and is a step in the right direction. However, lengthy hospital waiting times, long surgery waiting lists and ambulance ramping continue to impact patients.