Allied health initiativeis a welcome step towards better patient care

8 Jun 2004

AMA President, Dr Bill Glasson, today welcomed the Government's Medicare allied health initiative, which gives some chronically ill patients access to affordable allied health care such as podiatry and physiotherapy. But he said some of the finer details of the initiative need clarification.

"We've had discussions with the Minister," Dr Glasson said.

"Most of our concerns have been addressed, but linking the initiative to an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) plan will create more red tape for doctors.

"We already know GPs are cautious about linking patient care to EPCs because of the red tape involved.

"Care for the chronically ill, those with complex care needs and the elderly would be better delivered through the introduction of a fully funded and indexed 7-tier general practice structure which takes into account the time it takes to care for patients with complex medical issues.

"Under the new initiative GPs can refer patients with chronic or complex illnesses who are on an EPC plan to an Allied Health Provider (AHP) for care that will help manage their ongoing health needs.

"This recognition of a GP's role in managing patient care is welcome.

"GPs manage patient care in consultation with the patient. It's important that they're fully informed about care received from other sources.

"AHPs will feedback to GPs after each patient visit. This is also important for the quality of ongoing care.

"The $44 rebate for eligible patients will make appropriate care more affordable. It's also good to see that patients' out of pocket costs will be included in the safety net.

"The Health Insurance Commission (HIC) will determine which patients are eligible for EPCs and should provide a validation number.  HIC will also determine requirements AHPs must meet before they can register for the program.

"Because the initiative is only available to a limited group of patients, the Government must clearly explain to the public exactly who is eligible for this initiative," Dr Glasson said.

"Overall the initiative is a welcome one which recognises the multidisciplinary care needs of the elderly, people with chronic illness and complex care needs," Dr Glasson said.

CONTACT:         John Flannery            (02) 6270 5477 / (0419) 494 761
                       Judith Tokley             (02) 6270 5471 / (0408) 824 306

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