GP Stewardship of Patient Care Must Be Supported by Medicare Reforms

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​The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has issued a reminder that any Medicare reforms must maintain GP stewardship of patient care, which has been shown to promote patient health and welfare.

This warning follows press releases that the Albanese Government is drafting a plan to extend primary care delivery to other health professionals, with a new funding model that supports nurses and allied health professionals working in teams to deliver complex care.

The RACGP has now released a new strategy for governments to deal with the present health crisis, including immediate action to stop the bleeding and long-term reform that assures the future of GP care for all Australians. The strategies are:

  • To improve access to care, increasing Medicare rebates for longer, more complex consultations by 20% will be followed as well as funding enhanced primary care services for patients over 65, those with mental health conditions, and those with disabilities. Additionally, paying for patients to see their GP after an unexpected hospital stay.

  • To address the GP workforce shortage, fast-tracking international doctors' admission, reinstating the training grant, encouraging junior doctors to do an internship in general practice, and introducing payroll tax exemption for independent tenant GPs shall be considered.

  • Long-term reforms based on the RACGP Vision to strengthen the role of general practitioners as the guardians of patient care in multidisciplinary teams, with considerable investment to improve the health of Australians and cut costs for pricy hospital care.

According to Dr. Nicole Higgins, RACGP president, GP management of patient care in the community must be at the heart of any long-term improvements. She also said that the issue is that years of neglect and underfunding have made it increasingly difficult and expensive to consult a general practitioner, which has led to the crisis in the country's hospital system, with queues exploding and ambulances ratcheting up.

The Start of WA Registrars’ Career as Rural Generalists

Last January 20, 2022, in Perth, registrars in the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) Fellowship program joined together to take the first step toward becoming rural generalists.

Subsequently, the four-year specialty training program's education phase has begun, and the College is pleased to welcome recent medical graduates. Additionally, the first group of government-funded Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) registrars transitioning to College-led Training on February 1, 2023, was also a part of the orientation program, along with those training on the College's own Independent Pathway and Rural Generalist Training Scheme programs.

According to Dr. Dan Halliday, the ACRRM President, the new registrars will have the chance to become bonafide rural physicians through this ACRRM-led program, and they will be able to significantly contribute to the advancement of healthcare in Western Australia's rural and remote regions.

Dr. Dan Halliday also said that since the College was founded, its mission is to enhance the health of rural communities. To make this possible, a tried-and-true Fellowship program that equips participants with the information, abilities, and assurance necessary to become Rural Generalists capable of addressing the various needs that residents of our rural and remote regions depend on was developed.

Currently, the only College that concentrates on offering a rural and remote Fellowship program in rural generalism is the ACRRM. The four-year program this College offers gives medical students a chance to complete Advanced Specialist Training in a field that is in demand in rural and distant locations, such as the following:

  • Obstetrics

  • Emergency medicine

  • Anaesthesia

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

  • Mental health

Dr. Dan Halliday assures that registrars who choose careers in this area are committing to a line of work where they can have a genuine impact and where no two days are ever alike.

Governments Called to Support Plans to Enhance the Rural and Remote Health

In order to address the national scarcity of specialist General Practitioners (GPs) and the resulting access to healthcare services, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) urges the Commonwealth, states, and territories to take into consideration the special health conditions and requirements of rural and remote communities.

According to Dr. Dan Halliday, to sustain medical practices and expand the medical workforce in rural and distant areas, certain actions are necessary. For these reasons, the College is urging the development of a set of policies for rural and distant communities that are created in conjunction with rural stakeholders.

Included in these policies are incentives or bonuses, loadings, and refunds made available to Rural Generalist (RG) practitioners who work in rural and distant areas.

Greater Maternity Care for All Australian Women Says ACRRM

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) is extending its voice to the clamour of worry regarding the closure of rural maternity services and the subsequent effects on rural and remote women, their families, and their communities throughout Australia.

According to Dr. Dan Halliday, every Australian woman has the right to get maternity care of the highest quality. With this, the ACRRM is in favour of delivering maternity care that is woman-centred, equitable, culturally safe, and as near to the women's homes as feasible.

To address this concern, training rural GPs is needed. According to Dr. Halliday, ensuring the sustainability of rural maternity services necessitates a coordinated national strategy that includes coordination and cooperation between the Commonwealth and the states and territories as well as flexible care models, infrastructure, and clinical support. This strategy must also include training and support for the maintenance of workforce skills.

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