The third instalment of the RACGP engageGP member forum has given GPs a window into the college’s advocacy preparations for the upcoming Federal Election.
President Dr Karen Price, one of four RACGP representatives in attendance, began by thanking members for the feedback provided at prior engageGP forums and said the insights have been used to inform the college’s advocacy strategy.
‘We don’t know when [the election] is going to be, but we are already getting ready. We’re going to make the voice of general practice heard loud and clear,’ she said.
‘The RACGP will be fighting to ensure increased investment in primary healthcare is a top priority in the lead up to the election … reform without reinvestment is just red tape.’
The free online event highlighted potential areas for reform that the college will be targeting in the lead up to the election and also provided resources members can use to undertake their own advocacy.
Dr Price said the Federal Government is particularly interested in policy reforms surrounding primary care as it is in the midst of developing its 10-year Primary Health Care Plan, and added that key announcements are expected as part of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), which occurs at the end of the year.
As part of the strategy, Dr Price said the college has identified four key areas for reform:
- Funding that focuses on patients with high healthcare needs
- The proposal is that this be achieved via introducing service incentive payments (SIP) designed to support patients with complex care requirements, such as patients over 65, patients with mental illness, and people living with disability
- Increased investment in longer consultations
- The retention of phone consultations as part of a permanent telehealth model
- Better integrated primary and secondary care
Dr Price said the college will pursue this strategy as there appears to be little appetite to increase uncapped investment to general practice through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), and so it is considering alternative ideas for increased funding, such as SIPs.
‘It’s reward for effort; we know that [SIPs] go to the practitioner doing the work,’ she said.
‘We also know that increasing expenditure in general practice is likely to bring savings in the long-term due to better management of chronic conditions.
‘[So] we do know the evidence, but we can’t ignore this political appetite otherwise we’ll simply get left out of the conversation.’
Mental health and aged care were earmarked as other priority areas for healthcare reform, and the college will propose that SIPs support the provision of an appropriate general practice plan, a review, as well as a relevant additional service, such as a frailty assessment for aged care, a physical health assessment for people with mental health issues, and NDIS support for patients living with disability.
The proposal is that this funding would be separate to existing funding for relevant MBS chronic disease management.
Aside from reform areas, attendees were also given information on how they could undertake their own targeted advocacy, alongside resources
that members can use to help promote these goals.
At the end of the meeting, Dr Price, RACGP Expert Committee – Funding and Health System Reform (REC–FHSR) Chair Dr Michael Wright, REC–FHSR member Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, and Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Dr Lara Roeske responded to member queries and provided additional detail on the college’s behind-the-scenes advocacy.
A complete recording of the engageGP forum is available to members on the RACGP website