The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has called on the Australian Government to better support patients accessing quality and timely care from specialist GPs as part of the 2019-20 budget submission process.
President of the RACGP, Dr Harry Nespolon has outlined the importance of a strong healthcare system, noting that general practice is the first port of call for all Australians.
“As general practitioners, we see over 2 million Australians every single week and every single week we continue to see our patients needs change,” Dr Nespolon said.
“As a country, if we want to continue to be able to provide quality and affordable healthcare more must be done to keep general practice accessible for everyone no matter their condition or their salary.
The four key areas of focus in the RACGP submission are;
- Reducing patient out-of-pocket costs and supporting GP services, by ensuring patient rebates reflect increasing costs of providing care,
- Modernising medicine, by improving the options for patients who may not be able to come into a practice including rebates for phone and video call consultations,
- Providing more support for mental health, supporting GPs to be able to spend more time with their patients suffering from mental health conditions, and
- Supporting high-quality care for those who need it most, by improving the Medicare rebates to properly compensate patients who require more time with their GP.
The RACGP said the Federal Budget is an opportune time for the government to take a holistic view of the health system, and recognise the important role that general practice plays in keeping Australians healthy and out of the expensive hospital system.
“General practice is the most efficient and cost-effective part of our health system, and it needs appropriate investment in order to ensure the health of all Australians.
“As medical professionals we are constantly adapting to the changing needs of our patients, particularly as Australia's population ages. The Australian Government absolutely must demonstrate the same commitment to the health of our nation, and appropriately funding general practice is the most important first step.”
The RACGP pre budget submission can be viewed here