General practice undergoes its annual health check

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has launched its annual health check-up on general practice, General Practice: Health of the Nation.

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon presented the report to Australia’s key healthcare decision-makers, including Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen and Greens leader Richard Di Natale, this morning at Parliament House.

The report reveals there are many areas in which the nation’s primary healthcare system continues to thrive, while also highlighting areas of concern.

“As a GP I know that keeping a person healthy isn’t always easy, and keeping a nation healthy is an incredibly complex task,” Dr Nespolon said.

“GPs are on the frontline of our healthcare system and provide cradle-to-grave care for people right across Australia.

“Almost 90% of the Australian population sees a GP at least once a year, with more than two million GP visits every week. Our mission is to keep people healthy and out of hospital.

“If Australian general practice was one of my patients I would have many positive things to say, but also some suggestions on how to change course to improve overall health outcomes.”

The 2019 Health of the Nation report highlights the reasons patients see their GP, as well as how those patients interact with the primary health system.

It also points to challenges GPs face and what must be addressed to ensure Australians can access the care they need, when they need it.

Key highlights of the report reveal that:

· patients talk to their GP about mental health more than any other issue

· GPs are avoiding or delaying seeking their own healthcare for a range of issues, in part due to concerns about being reported to regulatory bodies

· out-of-pocket costs are increasing at double the consumer price index, with the average patient cost now higher than the rebate for a standard GP consultation.

· 14% of those delaying a GP visit do so because of cost concerns

· there is a decline in the proportion of services bulk billed outside of major cities

· more and more medical graduates are choosing other medical specialities over general practice, in part because a large amount of GP work is unfunded

· the costs of providing care are increasing year on year and not being matched through appropriate health funding. Medicare rebates remain the top priority health policy issue for GPs.

You can read the report here.


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