The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) welcomes the focus on community general practice as part of Tasmanian Labor’s plan to end “ramping” at the state’s hospitals, by better utilising general practice.
The Action Plan, launched on Sunday, includes the establishment of ten “Extended Care Centres” through existing general practices. The centres will receive a financial support package to allow extended hours and a “Medicare Match” contribution will ensure bulk billing for patients who have been referred by the Emergency Tasmania Digital Health Hub.
Late last year, the RACGP urged the Federal Government to boost primary care investment to significantly improve health outcomes for Australian patients and to reduce total healthcare costs. New modelling by PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting (PWC) described the multi-billion dollar economic benefits of implementing the RACGP’s Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system (The Vision).
PWC found that implementing The Vision creates substantial economic benefits by reducing the need for more expensive secondary care reducing ED presentations, reducing hospital admissions, and improving the nation’s productivity through a healthier workforce.
RACGP Tasmania Chair Dr Tim Jackson said that the plan to end ramping was a step in the right direction.
“I welcome the focus on community care, and it is refreshing to see the important role of general practice recognised,” he said.
“If we want to improve healthcare outcomes in Tasmania, we need a whole health system approach. Too often, health policies focus on more hospitals and more hospital beds as the solution to ongoing hospital capacity issues.
“Recognising the key role general practice plays in urgent care and providing GPs with the support they need is an important step.
“It is vital that our hospitals are properly funded but we cannot keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. Instead, government needs to better resource general practice so that a patient’s health issues can be dealt with in the community, at a fraction of the cost in in hospital.
“If a service can be delivered by general practice, it should be delivered by general practice. Piling more and more Tasmanians into already over-crowded hospitals benefits no one and costs more, we have to think differently.”
Dr Jackson said that other jurisdictions could learn from Tasmania’s approach.
“This isn’t about left versus right politics or federal versus state and territory, it is simply sound policy,” he said.
“The RACGP would like to see other states and territories take up a whole of system approach, not just Tasmania.
“So, I call on leaders in all jurisdictions and from across the entire political spectrum to consider how a whole health system approach could benefit people in communities everywhere.”