Health policy – lots of speculation, but no consultation

10 Apr 2014

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, this week called on the Government to engage in meaningful consultation with the medical profession about the future of primary health care, and put an end to the crazy policy speculation being floated in the media. He said it is not possible to develop significant health policy that works without first consulting with the people who work in the front line of the health system every day.
 
Dr Hambleton said that reports of a possible charge for ‘low acuity’ patients treated in emergency departments are further proof that policymakers are more focused on budget savings than patient care.
 
“The Government needs to clarify its position on primary care, especially general practice. All the speculation ahead of the Budget is about GP co-payments, freezing Medicare rebates, means testing, and now a charge for patients who go to emergency departments with minor ailments,” Dr Hambleton said.
 
“These proposals are targeted at the wrong end of the health system, they would produce disincentives for people to see their doctor, and they would create loads of new red tape for medical practices. Targeting GP services for savings is a false economy that would lead to greater costs down the track. General practice is a very efficient part of the health system, helping minimise the number of people who end up needing far more expensive hospital or chronic care.
 
“Rather than looking to make savings in general practice, the Government should be investing more in primary care and prevention,” Dr Hambleton said.
 
Full media release.