Tonight’s Budget reply saw Opposition Leader Bill Shorten committing to further investment in hospitals, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and significant support for cancer patients in managing out of pocket costs for expensive investigations and treatments.
President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Dr Harry Nespolon said that while these supports are welcome, Labor’s Budget response is another missed opportunity for where the vast majority of care occurs – in the community.
General practice is Australia’s most accessed form of healthcare, with nearly 90% of all Australians visiting their GP each year. Despite this, funding for general practice represents only 7.4% of total government health spending.
Today’s Budget reply by the Australian Labor Party did not go far enough to ensure Australian patients have access to primary healthcare when they need to, not when they can afford to.
Dr Nespolon said he was disappointed to see another missed opportunity to recognise the value of general practice and properly invest in the preventive care provided by GPs.
“General practice is the most cost effective part of our healthcare system and more than two million Australians visit a GP every week, so it was disappointing not to hear the Australian Labor Party would commit proper investment in general practice patient services if elected in the upcoming Federal Election.
“We have seen some signs that our political leaders are starting to recognise the vital role of general practice in our healthcare system, such as Labor’s Federal Election promise to end the Medicare freeze. But unfortunately this recognition does not go far enough.
“This health policy fails the very people Labor seeks to represent.”
The RACGP is calling for catch-up funding to reset Medicare patient rebates.
“Until this happens, patients will still be paying more than ever for their healthcare,” Dr Nespolon said.
“Australian GPs and their patients need the government elected at this year’s Federal Election to commit its support to general practice, rather than further investing in expensive hospitals.
“Focussing on hospitals as the answers for the challenges in health is simply unsustainable.”