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11 Apr 2019

BY DR RICHARD KIDD, CHAIR, AMA COUNCIL OF GENERAL PRACTICE

With the federal election just weeks away, it is important that our politicians are left with no uncertainty as to the importance of investing in general practice and in supporting GPs to deliver the right care at the right time.

Who is going to tell them this you might say? The AMA will continue to do so of course, but who they really need to hear it from is you. Afterall, you vote, and you know better than anyone what needs to change so you can provide timely preventive care, manage the array of health problems patients present with, provide cost-effective care and deliver better outcomes for patients.

You have the lived experienced of how Government health policies help or hinder you in providing quality patient care. You know you are managing more problems in each consultation than you did a decade ago. You know the population is ageing and the incidence of chronic disease is rising. You know the impact to the patient journey if care is fragmented and poorly coordinated. You know the impact of repetitive cuts to GP funding and the freezing of Medicare rebates, the increased pressure it puts you under in delivering quality care, what it means for patients’ out of pocket expenses and how that impacts the ability for some patients to access the care they need.

You have the power to influence the health policies of the major parties as the Federal Election approaches. If ever there is a good time to make your voice heard it is in the lead up to an election. Now is the time to step forward and lay it on the line for them.

We need our grass-roots GPs to talk to their local MPs, Senators and standing candidates, to write letters to their local paper, journals and newsletters, and to respond to the call from local media in the lead-up to the election. How much of this you want to do is up to you, but I encourage you to do at least one of these. Take the opportunity to fight for better resourcing of general practice both now and for the long term.

The AMA knows this can be a challenging prospect which is why we have developed a GP Federal Election Campaign Kit. The kit will support you with:

  • talking points for lobbying;
  • candidate (and patient) handouts;
  • template letters for the editors of local papers; and
  • up to the minute media releases to support lobbying activities.

It will also contain a copy of Key Health Issues for the 2019 Federal Election, which outlines measures to improve the way general practice is funded, with a focus on improved access to care, reward for quality care and quality improvement, system level outcome measures, and the long-term viability of general practice.

In terms of immediate measures for general practice, the AMA is focusing on seven priority areas that include: preventing unplanned hospitalisations, investment in quality care and quality improvement, funding to support longer consultations with patients; improved access to after-hours GP services, MBS rebates for GP telehealth consultations, wound care, and enhanced access to GP-led team-based care via the Workforce Incentive Program.

The AMA is also calling on the major parties to commit to working with the profession to design and implement a more robust long-term funding model for general practice, which builds on existing fee-for-service arrangements and enables patients to access improved care in the community.

All GP members can expect an email about the GP Federal Election Campaign Kit soon after the election is announced.

You are at the coalface of general practice and together we can make a difference to urge Governments to commit to the investment in general practice we know it deserves.

 


Published: 11 Apr 2019