Data highlights need for greater investment in general practice

18 August, 2015

AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, has pointed to data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), stating it sends a strong message to Government, highlighting the need for significant new investment in primary healthcare, especially in general practice.

According to Owler, new investment is vital for equipping the health system to meet current and future community needs. Furthermore, the AIHW data highlights the significant burden of chronic disease, with about half of all Australians having a chronic disease, and around 20 per cent having at least two.

"The AIHW data comprehensively backs the AMA's call for greater investment in primary care services, particularly general practice," Owler said.

"If people with complex and chronic disease cannot access the right services in the community, they often end up in hospital, and this costs the health system a lot more.

"It is internationally recognised that a strong primary health care system is the key to the future sustainability of any health system.

"The Government is talking a lot about the need to reform and improve primary care, but the talk is not being backed up with policy and action – policy and action that is needed right now.

"There is an urgent need to provide greater funding to general practice so that hardworking GPs across Australia are supported in caring for their patients, many of whom are suffering from multiple chronic conditions.

"The pressure on GPs in suburbs and local communities across the nation is compounded by the impact of the Medicare patient rebate freeze. The freeze is hurting patients and the doctors providing their care.

"The AMA supports the Government's primary care review and is participating in the review process, but the outcomes of the review are some time off.

"We need to see evidence that the primary care review and the parallel review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) are geared to providing greater investment in health, and are not intended to provide cost savings to the Budget," Owler said.