AMA warns that new GP aged care model will fragment patient care

3 Dec 2020

While supporting many of the recommendations made by Counsel Assisting the Aged Care Royal Commission, the AMA has warned that a proposed new model of primary care for nursing home residents risks cutting out older people’s usual GPs and creating a two-tiered plan.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the proposal to allow aged care residents to enrol with niche accredited general practices may discourage many GPs from providing care to aged care residents and lead to further fragmentation of care for our older people.

“With our population living longer and entering residential aged care at older ages and in more frail states of health, we should be aiming to bring aged care and health care closer together, not further fragment them,” Dr Khorshid said.

In its submission to the Aged Care Royal Commission, the AMA was broadly supportive of many of the recommendations, but argued strongly against the Counsel Assisting’s recommended new primary care model.

Dr Khorshid said that while the AMA is pleased with many of the recommendations by the Counsel Assisting, they’ve missed the mark when it comes to better access to health care and improving the model of GP care and that the rudimentary separation between aged care and health care must end.

The key feature of the proposed model is that a GP practice would have to be accredited to work in aged care. An older person entering a nursing home may therefore be expected to abandon the GP they have had for many years to find a GP has aged care accreditation.

“The AMA is very concerned that the proposed new model will be a two-tiered system where continuity of care would be discarded to the detriment of our elderly for the convenience of aged care providers,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Devising new models of care should not be a substitute for improving inadequate MBS rebates that do not recognise the complexity of care being provided to aged care residents.”

The AMA remains committed to working with the Royal Commission and the Department of Health on developing a model of care for our older people that recognises the importance of GPs in aged care and in improving overall health outcomes for older Australians.

The Counsel Assisting recommendations include a new Aged Care Act based on human rights principles for older people, mandated staffing ratios in nursing homes, demand driven access to aged care, and a new and independent process for setting aged care quality standards.

The latest AMA submission to the Royal Commission can be viewed here.

Read the full media release here.