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Chapter 1: Current and emerging issues

1.3 Issues requiring policy action

For the fourth year, Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) patient rebates are the most commonly identified priority area, with over 40% of GPs placing this in their top three priorities for policy action. Mental health remains the second most commonly identified area GPs want to see prioritised by the Australian Government (Figure 5). The need to better fund primary healthcare services is strongly reflected in responses, with ‘Medicare rebates’, and ‘Creating new funding models for primary healthcare’ being the most commonly identified ‘number one’ priority identified by GPs (Figure 5).

The impact of COVID-19 on general practice is seen with the appearance of telehealth and electronic prescribing (ePrescribing) as the third-ranked priority policy issue (Figure 5).

Other current events are reflected in the identified priorities, including ‘Pandemic and disaster preparedness’, and ‘Climate change and health’ (Figure 5). In 2020, these issues increased in concern to GPs, more than aged care or rural health services, which were identified as higher priorities in previous years.

GPs working in Aboriginal Medical Services were particularly concerned about social and cultural determinants of health and health equity and equality, with 33% and 31% respectively including these issues in their top two policy concerns. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health rounded out the top three (31%) policy concerns for these GPs.5

Figure 5. GPs want the Australian Government to prioritise primary care funding, mental health and telehealth*

GPs want the Australian Government to prioritise primary care funding, mental health and telehealth

*Showing the top eight out of 27 response options. Where data labels are not included, data represents less than 5%
Measure: GP responses to the question ‘From the list below, please rank the three top priority health policy issues that you think the federal government should focus on.’
Base: Responses to survey question, n = 1782
Source: EY Sweeney, RACGP GP Survey, May 2020.

  • The introduction of ePrescribing was fast-tracked in 2020 to support remote delivery of healthcare to patients.
  • 5. EY Sweeney. RACGP GP Survey, May 2020. Melbourne: EY Sweeney, 2020.

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