The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has cautiously welcomed today’s announcement regarding an increase in payments for general practices and pharmacies delivering COVID-19 vaccines.
It comes following sustained advocacy from the RACGP concerning the inadequacy of funding for practices participating in the vaccine rollout.
The college has warned that delivering booster vaccines, vaccinating children and delivering usual day-to-day care, including treating people with mental health issues and those who have delayed or avoided care during the pandemic, will continue to put many practices under tremendous pressure.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said today’s announcement was a positive step forward.
“Any funding boost is welcome. We don’t know the full details yet, but today is a good day for the nation’s GPs and general practice teams,” she said.
“I want to stress that this is not a panacea; it won’t solve every problem in front of us. General practices are under the pump and in coming months will face the challenge of vaccinating young children, a task that is more complex and time consuming than vaccinating adults, and delivering booster vaccines.
“On top of all of that, we will be providing our usual care for patients. You must remember that we will be caring for patients with mental health issues, including those who have lived through six lockdowns in Victoria, as well as those people who, unfortunately but understandably, delayed or avoided care during the pandemic.
“So, the additional $10 is good news because it shows that the Government is listening to the nation’s GPs and general practice teams.”
Dr Price warned that the coming months will be challenging for many practices.
“I will always welcome more support for general practice, but we need to remember that many practices are operating on wafer thin margins, and some are actually losing money on the vaccine rollout,” she said.
“Whether the additional funding will be enough for practices to at least break even as we enter this more complicated phase of the rollout remains to be seen. However, we will continue to advocate for a level of support that protects patients and allows GPs to get on with what we do best – providing world class primary care.
“The RACGP will continue fighting for the nation’s GPs, practice managers, nurses, receptionists and administrative workers. They deserve nothing less because they are the unheralded heroes of the vaccine rollout.
“They have had to endure seemingly never-ending changes to eligibility requirements, abusive and threatening patients, problems with supply and issues with communication from government. It seemed like every week had a fresh set of challenges. Now, practices are rolling up their sleeves yet again to vaccinate our kids and deliver booster vaccines.
“My message to them is simple – you should hold your heads high; you are doing a tremendous job. I know you are exhausted; I know this has been so challenging for so many practice teams, but please keep trying. Today’s announcement is a boost that will help. Continue forward with the incredible work you are doing.”