Cutting red tape could create 1000 GP jobs

11 Feb 2003

AMA President, Dr Kerryn Phelps, said today that Productivity Commission findings indicate that around 1000 GP positions could be created and funded if the Commonwealth Government red tape burden on GPs was halved.

Dr Phelps said that 1000 GPs - equivalent to two years of GP training intake - would assist in easing Australia's medical workforce problem.

A Productivity Commission progress report into the impact of Commonwealth Government program administration and compliance on general practice - released this week - confirms the heavy and unproductive 'red tape' burden being carried by Australia's GPs.

Dr Phelps said Government 'red tape' is stealing valuable patient time from GPs and making their practices unprofitable - forcing some out of medicine altogether.

"It is becoming harder for patients to access basic health care.

"The Productivity Commission has found there are at least 46 Commonwealth Government programs that impact on GPs," Dr Phelps said.

"State programs need to be added to this burden.

"The Productivity Commission estimates that complying with these programs is costing each GP around $10,000 a year. Any incentive for GPs to partake in these targeted programs is being eaten up by 'red tape'. Excessive administration and compliance is cutting into the time that doctors can spend with their patients."

Dr Phelps said the Productivity Commission report should send a warning to Government that GPs would not accept any additions to the administrative burden.

"The Health Minister, Senator Kay Patterson, is talking about yet another incentive program to encourage GPs to bulk bill," Dr Phelps said.

"The Minister is wasting her time with this idea. Bulk billing is on the way out and another layer of bureaucracy won't save it.

"Doctors are moving to private billing so they can stay in practice. Patients who can afford to pay are coming to grips with paying to visit their doctor. The Government has become irrelevant through inaction.

"The AMA has been warning the Government for years about their abandonment of Medicare and the results of their neglect are coming home to roost. It is now up to Government to ensure affordable access to health care for the poor, the elderly and the disadvantaged."

CONTACT: John Flannery (02) 6270 5477 / (0419) 494 761

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