Media release

Women and Girls Strategy a missed opportunity

The State Government's investment in primary care is welcome, but the funding could go so much further if it was used to establish women's health services delivered through existing general practices.

The Queensland Government’s Women and Girls’ Health Strategy is a missed opportunity to improve access to healthcare by investing in nurses and social workers in general practice, AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said today.

“We welcome the State Government’s willingness to invest in primary care, which has traditionally been seen as a federal responsibility through Medicare,” Dr Boulton said.

“But this funding would go so much further if it was used to establish women’s health services delivered through general practices.

“GPs and patients love and trust their practice nurses. They are an accessible resource for women and girls who aren’t sure about booking into a GP.

“It would be an amazing initiative to fund nurses to be part of a general practice team and also offer outreach services in shopping centres or other accessible places as part of a collaborative, team-based model.

“If this funding was shared among even 10 per cent of Queensland’s existing general practices, it could fund a dedicated women’s health nurse in each of those clinics full time for three years or part time for six years.

“Likewise, the majority of mental health support and counselling happens in general practice.

“Instead of funding social workers to provide this counselling, this could be better invested in helping general practices have a social worker on-site to do what social workers are trained to do – help people navigate and access information, advice and support services, and advocate on their behalf.

“Having a regular GP who provides comprehensive, coordinated, continuing care over years, often for several generations in a family, keeps people healthy and out of hospital.

“The RACGP has estimated that a reduction in the prevalence of low-urgency emergency presentations and hospital admissions from preventable conditions, as a result of better support for and investment in general practice, could save Australian hospitals up to $4.5 billion a year.

“The Queensland Government must work to improve patient access to GPs and other specialists, not undermine existing practices through GP-lite services.

“Women and girls still need access to medical doctors – GPs, gynaecologists, psychiatrists and other specialists – and there is not much in this strategy that will improve that access and cut wait lists.

“The government must work with their federal counterparts to improve Medicare rebates for patients to see their GP. The rebate rate is woefully inadequate and has been for decades.

“GPs cannot afford to keep subsidising their patients’ care. Medicare rebates must go further to meet the cost of providing care.”


AMA Queensland’s submission to the Women and Girls Health Strategy recommends:

  • increase Medicare rebates for mental health consultations and longer consultations for women’s health issues (e.g. by introduction of a women’s health assessment MBS item number);
  • invest in GP and GP-obstetrician models for pregnancy and birth, including:
    • funding to support GPs to undertake the associated training;
    • incentives to encourage existing GPs to maintain their skills and service regional, rural and remote communities;
    • a robust pathway for GP shared care; and
    • addressing Government policies and materials that inappropriately promote and favour midwifery models over GPs.
  • improve pathways for GPs to refer patients to gynaecologists, psychologists, psychiatrists. Funding must go straight to GPs and not Primary Health Networks to reduce red tape and the administrative burden that acts as a disincentive to practices;
  • inclusion of free medical abortion medications in doctors’ bags so patients can more easily access medical terminations through their GP; and
  • improve access to fully-subsidised ultrasounds required for women’s health concerns, particularly termination of pregnancy, endometriosis and pelvic pain.

The submission can be read in full here.

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