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RACGP represents member interests in variety of forums

12/08/2021 Written by Dr Michael Wright

This article is over 6 months old

RACGP represents member interests in variety of forums

The RACGP recently provided a submission in response to the Primary Health Reform Steering Group’s draft recommendations on the Federal Government’s Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan.
 
The response, developed in line with member feedback and informed by the Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system, makes clear that general practice is at a critical crossroad of viability with a decreasing growth in real healthcare funding, long-term inadequate remuneration and a growing compliance burden.
 
Worsening financial viability and increasing compliance are making general practice less attractive as a career and contributing to low levels of GP trainees and recruitment challenges across Australia.
 
The RACGP’s submission calls for significant new investment in general practice to both develop the workforce of the future and to enable existing practices to meet Australia’s current and future healthcare needs.
 
To this end, the RACGP sees the 10-Year Plan as a critical opportunity to make significant improvements to the lives of all Australians through achievable and cost-effective reforms in primary care.
 
The college has made recommendations on a range of proposed reforms, such as:

  • changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)
  • implementation of a patient enrolment model that includes additional funding to support GPs and practices to provide comprehensive and coordinated care, over and above the MBS
  • trialling of new models of primary care and funding
  • options to make telehealth permanent and sustainable
  • solutions to address current workforce shortages.
Prescribing antipsychotics in aged care
President Dr Karen Price recently wrote to the Chair of PBAC, Professor Andrew Wilson, regarding the restricted prescription of antipsychotics in residential aged care facilities (RACFs), as recommended by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
 
The Royal Commission recommended that only psychiatrists and geriatricians be able to initiate prescriptions of antipsychotics as a pharmaceutical benefit for people in RACFs.
 
While the RACGP supports the broad intent of the Royal Commission’s final report recommendations to improve outcomes for older people, we’re concerned that the proposed restriction of antipsychotic prescribing will have significant unintended negative impacts on access to high-quality care for older people.
 
GPs must retain the capacity to initiate antipsychotic prescriptions in RACFs to ensure older people can have immediate access to appropriate medicines.
 
Appearance before the Senate Community Affairs References Committee
Last month, I represented members at a Senate inquiry into the administration of professional registration and notifications by AHPRA and related entities under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.
 
The RACGP’s submission to the inquiry noted that the current notifications system can be extremely stressful for practitioners. Even when providers are found to be not at fault, AHPRA processes can be lengthy and can have severe impacts on practitioner reputation and mental health.
 
We have advocated to amend mandatory notification processes, allowing health professionals with mental health conditions to disclose these conditions to their GP, without fear of automatic AHPRA notification.
 
The RACGP is also concerned that GPs bear much of the burden of AHPRA processes. Medical practitioners are overrepresented in the AHPRA notification process, and GPs make up the largest proportion of registered medical specialists (nearly 40%).
 
Recent stakeholder meetings
At the end of June, RACGP representatives attended meetings with the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck, and Labor Senator Pat Dodson, to discuss Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
 
Meanwhile, RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements met with independent MP Dr Helen Haines, and the college has also scheduled a meeting with the new Federal Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie, in the coming weeks.

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