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Halving GP red tape would free up more than 7 million new GP consultations a year

AMA RED TAPE SURVEY 2011 The AMA has estimated that halving the amount of Government red tape confronted by GPs each week would free up approximately 7.4 million extra general practice consultations every year, which would dramatically improve patient access to health care.

21 Nov 2011

AMA RED TAPE SURVEY 2011

The AMA has estimated that halving the amount of Government red tape confronted by GPs each week would free up approximately 7.4 million extra general practice consultations every year, which would dramatically improve patient access to health care.

The AMA Red Tape Survey 2011 found that almost 10 per cent of GPs are spending more than nine hours of their working week dealing with Government red tape, and more than 20 per cent are spending up to nine hours.

More than one-third of GPs (37.1 per cent) were tied up with red tape for between 3-6 hours a week, and 31.1 per cent spent up to three hours a week on red tape.

The average red tape burden was 4.62 hours a week.

The AMA snapshot of the red tape burden on general practice was conducted over a month during July and August 2011, with 482 GPs completing the detailed survey.

Ninety eight per cent of respondents agreed that red tape was a major problem in their practice.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that it was a shameful waste that around 30 per cent of GPs were spending up to or more than the equivalent of a full day’s work doing Government paperwork, seeking telephone authorisations, or performing other bureaucratic tasks that kept them away from patient care.

“These doctors are up to their necks in compulsory bureaucratic red tape when they could be seeing patients,” Dr Hambleton said.

“People are being forced to spend more time waiting to see the doctor, with others unable to get an appointment at all, because of workforce shortages or distractions that reduce the amount of time that GPs can spend face-to-face with their patients.

“The Government must review and minimise the bureaucratic burden on GPs.

“Patients are missing out on timely medical care and doctors are missing out on what they want to do, what they are trained to do, and what they do best – provide quality personal care for their patients.

“The system needs to be streamlined with fewer forms, simpler forms, and greater use of electronic forms.

“The AMA has worked on solutions to take to the appropriate Ministers and their Departments to cut the red tape and maximise the amount of time each week that doctors can spend with patients.

“That would be a good outcome for everybody,” Dr Hambleton said.

Summary of the outcomes of the AMA 2011 Red Tape Survey:

During Family Doctor Week 2011 (18 to 24 July 2011), the AMA launched a survey about red tape in general practice, which has been previously identified as a significant burden for GPs.  Nearly 500 GPs participated in the survey.

Red tape continues to have a significant impact on general practice, with 98 per cent of GPs agreeing that red tape was a major concern for them.

The average number of hours spent on red tape compliance by GPs each week is just over 4.6 hours.  This equates to just under 15,000,000 GP consultations lost to red tape in Australia each year.  If we could cut red tape by 50 per cent, we could free up about 7,400,000 additional GP consultations each year, dramatically improving patient access to care.

Red tape clearly remains a real problem for GPs, despite the fact that many reviews about red tape in general practice have been conducted by Federal and State/Territory Governments and all these reviews have identified that red tape can and should be reduced.

The AMA Council of General Practice (AMACGP) has agreed that tackling general practice red tape will be an ongoing priority and the AMA 2011 Red Tape Survey was designed to find out from coalface GPs what are the most frustrating areas of red tape and why.  This feedback is critical so that the AMA can work with governments and other bodies to get red tape cut.  Reducing red tape is important – any time spent on unnecessary red tape is time not spent meeting the care needs of patients.

The key areas where GPs stated there was too much red tape were:

  1. Completing Centrelink forms – 91.1 per cent of GPs agreed that there was too much red tape.

AMA Solution:  Government agencies and medical software providers must continue to streamline forms and increase the utilisation of pre-populated forms.

  1. PBS phone authorisations – 88.8 per cent of GPs agreed that there was too much red tape.

AMA Solution:  The Federal Government should remove the PBS authority system altogether, which has been shown to be unnecessary and of no benefit to the community;

  1. Completing Third Party/Work Cover requirements – 84.2 per cent of GPs agreed that there was too much red tape.

AMA Solution:  Digitise Third Party/Work Cover forms;

  1. Complying with the requirements of the MBS disease management items – 78.6 per cent of GPs agreed that there was too much red tape.

AMA Solution: Implement the AMA’s plan to manage chronic disease by cutting paperwork and streamlining GP-coordinated access for patients to multi-disciplinary care and other support services.  This plan can be found at http://ama.com.au/node/5519

  1. Completing DVA forms – 68.6 per cent of GPs agreed that there was too much red tape.

AMA Solution:  Government agencies and medical software providers must continue to streamline forms and increase the utilisation of pre-populated forms.

  1. Completing the paperwork for S8 drugs – 66.8 per cent of GPs agreed that there was too much red tape.

AMA Solution:  Modernise prescribing arrangements for S8 medications, by removing the outdated requirement for handwritten prescriptions.

  1. Completing (duplicate) scripts for residents in residential aged care facilities – 62.1 per cent of GPs agreed that there was too much red tape.

AMA Solution:  Ensure chart based prescribing is introduced in all residential aged care facilities.

A large number of GPs also expressed concern about the paperwork required for:

  • Participating in Medicare’s Practice Incentive Program (PIP);
  • Completing referrals and applications to Residential Aged Care Facilities;
  • Completing separate Provider number applications for each practice they work in;
  • Meeting accreditation requirements; and
  • Completing State Government Road Traffic Authority (or the equivalent) for drivers’ licence renewals, taxi vouchers and the like.

The AMA is calling on the Federal Government and State and Territory Governments to work with the AMA to address these critical areas that waste substantial time for GPs.  Any improvements will instantly free up the time that GPs have to spend with patients and significantly improve patient access to GP services.

 


21 November 2011

 

CONTACT:            John Flannery                       02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

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Published: 21 Nov 2011