AMA calls for Commonwealth to spend at least ten percent of health budget on general practice
The AMA last week released a new Position Statement on General Practice in Primary Health Care and called on the Government to set a target for funding GP services, to deliver extra funding for general practice research, and to set up a centre of excellence in general practice and primary care research.
AMA Vice President, Dr Tony Bartone, said general practice is the cornerstone of a successful primary health care system, and must be funded adequately. Evidence shows that populations in countries with strong general practice have lower rates of ill-health and mortality, better access to care, lower rates of hospital readmissions, and less use of emergency services.
In Australia, with the ageing population and the increase in the burden of chronic disease, GPs are managing more problems and spending more time with patients in each consultation then they did a decade ago.
“Yet funding for general practice is not growing to match rising demand,” Dr Bartone said, calling on the Government to deliver real resources to frontline GPs.
GP services account for just 8 per cent of Commonwealth health spending. The AMA is proposing this be lifted to around 10 per cent as part of an effort to re-orientate the health system to focus more on general practice and primary health care, with long-term savings to the health budget anticipated in return.
With only a woeful 2 percent of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHRMC) grants directed to supporting primary health care research, including general practice, the AMA is calling for a dedicated stream of general practice research funding in the order of 8 per cent of its grants budget.