AMA President addresses International Primary Health Care Reform Conference

20 Mar 2014

Dr Steve Hambleton, AMA President, this week spoke at the International Primary Health Care Reform Conference on the topic of driving quality primary care. He emphasised that family doctors are the foundation of quality primary health care in Australia and have the trust of the community to provide holistic and continuous care throughout life.

“Fee for service should remain as the cornerstone funding source for general practice,” Dr Hambleton said. He added that the AMA wants to see further investment in general practice through greater support for longer consultations, where more problems can be covered and preventive health issues attended to, and more support for chronic disease management.

He outlined the AMA position supporting appropriate mechanisms for quality improvement and stated that those mechanisms must be evidenced based, voluntary and cost effective. He pointed out, however, that financial incentives provided to health care professionals to change their behaviour do not always improve patient outcomes and that appropriate account must be taken of the unintended consequences of any mechanism used for improving quality care. 

Dr Hambleton concluded his address by saying that the challenge for the medical profession is to accept that it does have a role in the stewardship of the health system. “Otherwise, government will step in, and health care will be dictated by health financing experiments, rather than evidence-based and effective health care delivering measurable outcomes,” Dr Hambleton said.

Read Dr Hambleton’s speech.