RACGP calls for fact not fiction in health debate
7 March 2016
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has challenged the findings of a Grattan Institute report on chronic disease treatment in primary care.
RACGP President Dr Frank R Jones said the Chronic Failure in Primary Care report referred to old data, some of which dated back 10-15 years, and was selective in its representation of the issues.
‘Health systems in every country are struggling with the changes in health demography and finding the most cost-effective modus operandi. We need to carefully appraise overseas models and only apply them in an Australian context,’ Dr Jones said.
‘We need Australian solutions to Australian problems – frontline GPs see the challenges daily and are central to any informed debate about the best way forward.’
The RACGP released its Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system last year, which highlights solutions to some of the problems identified in the Grattan report.
‘Our model sets out a vision for implementing the patient-centred medical home in Australia, by improving coordination and integration of care, particularly for patients with chronic disease.’
Dr Jones said the RACGP agreed there was an issue in managing chronic disease in Australia, however the statistics reported by the Institute were not new; people are living longer than ever before and as a result, people are living with more complex health conditions for longer.
‘The Grattan report suggests that there is significant funding allocated to support chronic disease care, and suggests inherent system inefficiencies,’ Dr Jones said.
‘From a GP perspective however, the Productivity Commission Report released last month revealed that general practice continues to be the most efficient part of the health system.
‘The continued focus on finding savings in general practice itself is a misconception when general practice accounts for just 7% of overall government spending on health.
‘Of course, there is opportunity to use scarce health dollars more efficiently across the health system. But it requires investment in quality general practice, not the imposition of red-tape and suspect overseas models.’
Recommendations to increase the role of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to manage primary care services was also of concern.
‘Where is the evidence that PHNs will improve patient outcomes and experiences of the health system?’ Dr Jones said.
‘PHNs may help fill gaps in patient services, and connect health professionals. We all want to improve our patients’ outcomes, none less than GPs and the RACGP, so let us all work in constructive collaboration for the common good.
‘A patient-centred medical home with appropriate recognition of quality continuity and contextuality is undoubtedly the best way forward, and PHNs need to embrace and support GPs in this endeavour.’