We secured telehealth, now a permanent feature of general practice care

RACGP Membership > RACGP Membership 2022-23 > We secured telehealth, now a permanent feature of general practice care
  • We know telehealth has been an innovative and life-saving solution that has kept Australians as safe as possible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a valuable complement to face-to-face care and has improved access to care for patients in need.   
  • Permanent telehealth arrangements started in January 2022 and were welcomed by the RACGP following our strong advocacy. The funding also included $31.8 million for the Workforce Incentive Program, designed to get extra funds to general practices by including telehealth items in the calculation of the Standard Whole Patient Equivalent (SWPE). The SWPE calculation underpins practice funding, so we’ve been calling for the inclusion of telehealth consultations since telehealth started. This as a huge win for GPs across Australia.  
  • We also successfully pushed for the temporary reinstatement of longer phone consultations (Level C) due to COVID-19 outbreaks, and we secured an MBS phone item for a mental health consultations of more than 20 minutes. 

Much more achieved for GPs in 2021

In addition, there are many other advocacy wins we secured on behalf of our members last year including significant and ongoing contributions to the Primary Healthcare 10 Year Plan, calling out government for their lack of investment in the 10 Year Plan once released and blocking the proposed model of Voluntary Patient Enrolment that was put forward without sufficient funding for general practice. We responded firmly to the most recent Federal budget, producing resources for members and highlighting the importance of general practice funding in the media. All of this was based on the insights and views that you shared with us throughout 2021. 

The RACGP has continued to fight to represent GPs across a range of platforms, including throughout the Senate Inquiry into the provision of general practitioner and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural, and regional Australians. We have called for increased Medicare rebates and measures to reinforce the general practice workforce, and this strong advocacy was reflected in the positive recommendations in the Interim Report from this Senate Inquiry. 

The RACGP Board, Faculty Councils and Expert Committees have worked tirelessly to represent your views and actively engage in ongoing health reform activities across Australia. In 2021, the RACGP produced over 160 submissions to government and key stakeholders.  

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