Telephone consults for GPs backflip welcome

doctors reform society

Federal Government Backflip on GP Telephone Consults Heartless Politicking

“The Federal Government has now agreed to fund telephone consults longer than 20 minutes. This means that a small group of the most vulnerable in our community have proper access to GPs”, said Dr Tim Woodruff, President, Doctors Reform Society. “This is very welcome news.”

“Just a few weeks ago the same Government stopped funding such consults without any justification. That decision left the most vulnerable to cope with the generosity of under-funded GPs who, if they wished to help the patient with more than 20 minutes of care, were told by a heartless Government that they would not be funded for that extra care. For patients, nothing had changed. They were unable to use video conferencing but the Government decided that the telephone alternative was not acceptable. What a heartless turnaround.”

“Now, with COVID in full swing they have backflipped. It is now OK to do long telephone consults and for the GP to be funded properly. But why were such consults defunded anyway?” asked Dr Woodruff. ” This change is a correct decision but restricted only to NSW hotspots. Why were GPs and patients kicked in the guts weeks ago when the very same patients were denied access to long consultations via telephone? No justification was given then for a decision which disadvantaged the most vulnerable people in our community, i.e. those who needed a long consultation because they had major problems and they were not computer literate.”

“The backflip applies only to consultations, not to giving more complicated care and working out care plans, items that were previously funded.”

“These policy changes indicate that our Government is simply not aware of the struggle for GPs and our most vulnerable patients dealing with major health issues in such a difficult environment,” said Dr Woodruff. “Telephone consults help enormously. They need to be expanded, not reduced.”

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