Date: 14 July 2017
The Productivity Commission inquiry into introducing competition and informed user choice into human services has been underway for 12 months and has focused on six areas of the human services sector, including end-of-life care and public hospitals.
In its draft report released in May 2017, the Productivity Commission made several recommendations for these sectors. The RACGP has responded to recommendations surrounding advance care planning (ACP) and patient referrals made by the Productivity Commission in its inquiry into introducing competition and informed user choice into human services.
Acknowledging what an important and challenging area ACP is in general practice, the RACGP accepts that while introduction of the concept of ACP should be recognised as an activity within health assessments for people aged 75 and older, it should not be mandatory. The RACGP has cautioned that effective ACP requires a significant amount of time and a dedicated Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item could be introduced for any further ACP work completed by a GP or a practice nurse under a GP’s direction (including education, provision of materials and coordination).
The RACGP submission also stressed how GPs currently support patient choice when referring, and reflects on why GPs are crucial to the referral decision-making process. The submission is in response to the Productivity Commission’s draft recommendation, which advocated for amending the Health Insurance Regulations 1975 to make it clear that patients referred to a specialist can choose which public outpatient clinic or private specialist they attend following consultation with their GP.