AMA rejects report suggesting parents lack confidence in GPs

14 Sep 2017

AMA Vice President, Dr Tony Bartone, has appeared in the media advocating for parents to consult their family doctor when their child is in pain. While hospital emergency departments can assist, a trusted and known GP may be better placed to address the problem.

“It's important to realise that in the first instance the best place to seek information and care for that child's presenting problem would be the usual family doctor or practice where that child attends,” Dr Bartone said.

"It's ideal to get a handle on what are the symptoms and what are the actual steps that need to follow and whether we can better manage in the clinic, whether we can do something to immediately put some management into play during the transfer, or organising for an emergency presentation to occur."

A recent survey of 2100 parents in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health found that 93% of parents were mostly or completely confident in GPs to provide general care for their children. This high figure reflects positively on the work of family GPs. Oddly however, the authors focused on the figure of 45% of respondents being ‘mostly confident’ in their GP, as opposed to the 44% who reported feeling ‘completely confident’. Only 2% of respondents reported that they were ‘not very confident’ (defined as able to handle few general health issues for my child).

Media reports then focused only on the ‘completely confident’ percentage, reporting that parents were not confident in GPs caring for their children. Dr Bartone rightly rejected this interpretation.

"I don't believe for one minute that there is a lack in confidence in dealing with paediatric cases. Communication and understanding is a lot easier when there is already an existing relationship. But not only that, it puts everyone at ease even in an emergency situation.”

ABC’s Media Watch outlined in detail how media outlets had misrepresented the research finding, pointing to Department of Health data that indicates visits to GPs as rising. You can watch and read the transcript of the program here.