The AMA this week laid out its vision for the future of the Australian health system in a major speech to the National Press Club, with the goal of making Australia the healthiest nation in the world.
The AMA’s Vision for Australia’s Health looks beyond the pandemic and provides a blueprint to secure a robust, sustainable health system for decades to come with high quality, patient-centred care at its heart.
The vision outlines areas of the health system in need of reform based around five policy pillars – general practice, public hospitals, private health and an equitable, innovative health system for all – underpinned by a bedrock of core principles supporting a stronger health system.
The vision has a strong focus on general practice, which Dr Khorshid highlighted in his speech.
Dr Khorshid emphasised that general practice is vital as the starting point of the health care system – not to mention the backbone of vaccine efforts. He said that if we are to have any hope of stemming the tide of chronic disease in our nation, we need to bolster this first line of defence.
As part of the AMA’s new approach of developing detailed policy papers, the paper – “Putting Health Care back into Aged Care” was released, which highlights where crucial investment into GP services is needed to support Australians in Aged Care.
Dr Khorshid cautioned that while the Government’s investment in response to the Royal Commission is welcome and significant, it sadly had some significant oversights when it comes to our nation’s GPs.
In the AMA’s Aged Care paper, modelling estimated that if governments invested sufficiently in primary health care and aged care, over four years (2021-22 to 2024-25), $21.2 billion could be saved in public and private health care from avoidable hospital admissions, from older people in the community or in nursing homes.
Dr Khorshid said that it is critical to ensure greater access to GPs when dealing with the healthcare needs of older Australians – especially if we want to stop the flow of unnecessary hospital transfers.
The AMA will continue to campaign for Medicare to better support GPs to look after patients in Aged Care facilities – so that more older Australians can maintain access to their usual GP once they enter an Aged Care Home.
There was little in the Government’s response to the Royal Commission that addressed this.
Primary healthcare professionals’ control or influence approximately 80 per cent of healthcare costs, with 83 per cent of patients seeing a GP each year. Yet spending on General Practice accounts for only 8 per cent of total government health spending.
One tenth of the costs they control. There is a huge opportunity to save on expensive hospital care by investing in primary care.
Now is the time to back our General Practitioners.