04 July 2024

Funding preventive care key to tackle diabetes epidemic

Australia’s peak GP body has welcomed a parliamentary inquiry that has found there is a desperate need to invest in preventive care to turn around Australia’s diabetes epidemic. 

The Inquiry into Diabetes in Australia report made 23 recommendations to strengthen the Government’s response to diabetes and obesity, with a strong emphasis on improving prevention. 

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) recommended more investment in preventive care in its submission to the inquiry.  

RACGP Chair Dr Lara Roeske said: “Investing in preventive care in general practice is key to turning around Australia’s diabetes epidemic. 

“Diabetes is our fastest growing chronic disease, affecting around 1.5 million Australians, and with many undiagnosed. 

“GPs play a central role in diabetes prevention, diagnosis and management, and we know early detection is key for people to turn their health around.  

“So, it’s critical that general practice care is affordable for everyone in Australia.  

“This is why the RACGP is calling for the government to increase patients’ Medicare rebates for standard and longer consultations. This is the subsidy the government pays to cover the cost of care for Australians. But after decades of underfunding, today’s patient rebates don’t come close to the true cost of providing care across the country. 

“There should be investment in programs that support GPs to engage at risk people in their communities. Other innovative services that encourage healthy lifestyles, such as the RACGP Healthy Habits app and social prescribing also need support, and supporting multidisciplinary teams within general practice would also improve care. Barriers to GPs providing care to patients should be removed, such as allowing GPs to initiate electronic glucose monitoring devices. 

“Diabetes is a complex disease and people often have multiple health issues alongside it. It’s critical that we get health policy and funding right, and investing in preventive care in general practice is key.  

“This will not only help more Australians live healthier lives, it will also save the health budget. We know Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed in up to 58% of people – prevention can have a huge positive impact for Australians.” 

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