Stronger general practice key to primary health care reform

10 Sep 2015

The AMA Submission to the Government’s Primary Health Care Review highlights the robustness of the Australian health system, particularly the crucial role of general practice, and stresses the need to build on the proven track record of general practice with significant new investment. 

AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said this week that the Review must focus on strengthening the parts of the system that deliver quality, accessible and affordable care to the community, most notably general practice. 

Professor Owler cautioned the Primary Health Care Advisory Group's (PHCAG) against change for change’s sake and pursing reforms of which there is only very limited evidence about any significant positive impact.

“The AMA has put forward to the PHCAG a measured, workable plan to improve access to care for patients, particularly those with chronic disease,” Professor Owler said. 

This includes practical reform of existing MBS Chronic Disease items, funding directed to general practice to support pro-active models of care coordination and incentives to support quality improvement. 

For the Review to have genuine credibility, the Government must change its reform language – it must start talking about primary care reform as an investment, not a cost or a saving to the Budget bottom line. 

“There is no doubt that extra investment in general practice will deliver long term savings to the Government, and improve the sustainability of the health system. 

“The Government needs to take a long term view and make this investment now, in the knowledge of savings in later years, better patient outcomes, and less pressure on our hospital system. 

“Significant new investment in general practice and the urgent need to lift the current freeze on the indexation of Medicare patient rebates must be priorities for the Review, or they will be priority issues for voters at the next election,” Professor Owler said. 

“The Government has raised the expectations of the community, as well as stakeholders, and it must now deliver the significant real new investment needed to achieve genuine reform that benefits patients and communities.” 

Full Media Release

AMA Submission to the Primary Health Care Review