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30 Jul 2020

The AMA has released its vision for the future of primary health care and general practice in post-COVID Australia - Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform. 

“General practice is the cornerstone of successful primary health care, and the foundation of Australia’s world-class healthcare system,” AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone said. 

“However, despite agreeing with the rhetoric of the importance of properly funded general practice, successive Governments have overseen a rate of investment in general practice that has not matched the increase in the cost of providing high-quality patient care.  

“The Australian population is growing, ageing, and developing more complex health needs as chronic disease and mental ill-health continue to increase. General practice funding models must change to meet the needs of the community. 

Dr Bartone highlighted that COVID-19 has accentuated how underfunded general practice has been for decades since large financial incentives were needed to keep many practices viable. This included the implementation of telehealth – an innovation that the AMA has long advocated for – to ensure patients had access and connection with their usual GP at this time of critical challenge. 

“The AMA 10-Year Framework identifies immediate funding goals to ease the financial pressures on general practice, and long-term reforms that should be implemented as part of the Federal Government’s 10-year Primary Health Care Plan, Dr Bartone said.  

The AMA is calling for Federal Government spending on general practice services to be increased to at least a mandated 16 per cent of total health spending as part of a range of reforms to support general practice and improve access to GP care for all patients.   

The AMA has made four key recommendations: 

  • Primary care reforms to build on the existing GP-led model of primary health care, which deliver high-quality, cost-effective outcomes for patients; 
  • The Government to work closely with the AMA and medical profession to develop and implement a suitable funding model to enable the transformation of general practice into a medical home; 
  • General practice to be adequately funded to reach its full potential and meet the increasingly complex healthcare needs of the community, involving a mandated 16 per cent of total health spending; and 
  • Continued investment in long-term strategies to ensure a sustainable medical workforce. 

Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform is available here 

Published: 30 Jul 2020