AMA calls for more funding to support GP aged care visits

22 Apr 2021

The AMA is calling for increased funding to support and encourage more GPs to visit patients in nursing homes as well as greater investment in nursing home facilities to make it easier for GPs to deliver the care that people in nursing homes deserve. 

The call comes as AMA members report significant barriers to delivering care and deterring doctors from visiting aged care facilities altogether. 

Problems include: 

  • incompatible IT systems 

  • lack of nursing staff to identify patients and assist GPs with clinical handovers 

  • no clinically equipped private examination rooms available 

  • lack of physical access with no parking, and the need for personalised swipe cards and access codes 

  • lack of adequate financial support for doctors’ visits 

These hamper the delivery of quality patient care for our older Australians. 

“AMA Members have signalled their intention to reduce nursing home visits and even cease them altogether and this is the last thing we want right now, when we know our older loved ones are suffering from a lack of medical care inside nursing homes,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said. 

“Instead, we should be attracting more doctors into aged care by supporting them to take the time away from their busy practices and visit patients in nursing homes. That way GPs can continue their relationships with their elderly patients who move into aged care.” 

Dr Khorshid highlighted that most GPs bulk bill their patients in aged care, putting themselves out of pocket due to the current Medicare rebate being woefully inadequate to cover the time spent in nursing homes with patients and for ‘non-contact time’ - the time spent on a patient’s care outside of their consultation. 

The AMA has called for increased Medicare funding so that GPs can work with nurses to deliver the quality and quantity of care that older Australians expect, and deserve, in a way that is sustainable for the health system. 

The AMA’s new report – putting health care back into aged care – has estimated that this will cost $145 million in 2021-22 and $643 million over four years to 2024-25 using new modelling. This is compared to the over $21 billion of savings that can be made in addressing preventable hospital admissions from aged care. 

AMA Vice President, Dr Chris Moy, is a GP who works in aged care. He says that just making sure a GP is supported in visiting a resident who has deteriorated can make the difference between them having to be transferred to hospital or not. Being able to treat the resident in their home is better for the individual and the health system. 

“We’ve identified a suite of needs for both the patient and GP in nursing home settings and if the Government is serious about reforming aged care, they should allocate resources to these areas,” Dr Moy said. 

“All of this speaks to our call to put health care back into aged care by boosting the number of doctors and nurses in aged care, and ultimately improving the health of our precious but often most vulnerable members of our community residing in the aged care system.” 

Details of $21 billion in potential savings identified by the AMA are contained in our latest report: ‘Putting Health Care Back Into Aged Care’ 

Read the full media release here.