RACGP calls for focus on improving primary healthcare

05 July, 2016

The absolute first priority for the incoming Government should be to end the extended freeze on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).

In addition, to then looking at a long-term sustainable strategy to properly fund primary healthcare patient services according to The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

"The new Government will need to explain where they stand on the future of the most efficient and effective part of the Australian medical system – primary healthcare," RACGP President, Dr Frank R Jones said. 

Extending the freeze until 2020 in the May Budget was a bitter blow to general practice provision of quality services.

"If it remains unchecked the freeze will leave many general practices unviable, and disproportionally affect the most vulnerable patients and those in lower socio-economic and rural areas. Essentially, we'll see a withering away of access – which is a terrible outcome.

"The RACGP is seeking progressive health reform and a genuine commitment to the future of our healthcare system from our political leaders and we are committed to discussing funding models for a sustainable and effective primary health care system," Dr Jones said.

The RACGP's platform for the 2016 Federal Election calls for the next Government to:

  • immediately reinstate annual indexation of the MBS patient rebates for general practice services, so that patient rebates keep pace with the cost of providing quality healthcare

  • Introduce MBS patient rebates for non-face-to-face patient services to improve access to general practice and transform Australian primary healthcare for the 'digital age'

  • Commit to properly fund quality and comprehensive general practice through implementation of the patient-centred medical home model (as outlined in the RACGP's Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system) a model of primary healthcare.  

"In a patient-centred medical home, patients have a stable and ongoing relationship with a general practice that provides continuous and comprehensive care throughout all life stages. This model is the most cost effective way to address the needs of patients, healthcare providers and funders," Dr Jones said.