12 September 2023

GPs can make the NDIS more efficient and ensure patients get the right supports

GPs play a vital role in disability care and should be better utilised to support patients and improve efficiency of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

In its submission to the independent review of the NDIS, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has provided a set of recommendations to improve the scheme’s functioning, including:

  • Greater involvement of GPs in NDIS planning to improve efficiency and better target supports to patients.
  • Ensure access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and improve access to supports in rural and remote areas.
  • Increase collaboration and enable team care between GPs, other health professionals and the disability sector to prevent inappropriate supports and duplicated services for patients.
  • Ensure GPs are appropriately renumerated to care for patients with disability and help them apply for the NDIS and provide clearer information and education to help GPs navigate the scheme.
  • Ensure NDIS funding is allocated appropriately and fairly by giving treating medical professionals input into individual plan approval and funding and establishing a fraud mechanism to scrutinise service providers.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said GPs are key to improving care for NDIS patients.

“GPs play a vital role in disability care. We support patients right throughout their life, from the day their disability is diagnosed, and work with other health professionals and services providing supports,” she said.

“If we want to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disability, we need to ensure general practice care is affordable, especially for people with complex needs, and that GPs are supported to work in teams with other health professionals and disability services for the best outcomes for patients.  

“GPs want to do more for patients with disability, but we face barriers in the system. For example, there’s no Medicare patient rebate for the NDIS paperwork a GP does to support a patient, unless it’s done during a consultation. This puts an unnecessary burden on the patient to attend an appointment, and it’s worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients because they require more paperwork to support their NDIS applications.

“People with disability are often already financially disadvantaged and shouldn’t be put in worse position due to inadequate Medicare support.

“If GPs are better utilised, we can also help make the NDIS more efficient. For example, greater involvement of GPs at the planning stage would mean better targeted supports faster, because GPs have in-depth knowledge of their patients, what works, and what doesn’t work for them. If GPs are supported to liaise directly with NDIS service provides, we can prevent inappropriate supports and duplicated services, as well as advising of issues so they can be dealt with quickly.

“As a GP from Mackay, I’m also acutely aware of the need to improve access to NDIS supports for rural and remote patients. Patients in rural areas often find it much harder to meet the onerous evidence demands required to apply for NDIS supports, such as occupational therapy, psychiatry, and intellectual capacity testing, because such services are often a long drive away.

“No patient should be disadvantaged due to their postcode. We can do a lot better to ensure people with disabilities get the care and support they need to thrive, while also making the NDIS more efficient and sustainable.” 

Media enquiries

Journalists and media outlets seeking comment and information from the RACGP can contact John Ronan, Ally Francis and Stuart Winthrope via: