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20 Nov 2013

Two new health reports released this week – General practice activity in Australia 2012-13and A decade of Australian general practice 2002-03 to 2012-13 – confirm the key role of GPs as the leaders in primary care in Australia.

Released by the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) program, the reports show that the Australian community is relying more and more on highly skilled GPs for quality health care and advice.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the reports show clearly that GPs are the preferred first port of call for Australians seeking the best possible health care, and demand is growing as the population ages and more people are experiencing chronic and complex conditions.

“When Australians are sick or want trusted health advice, they want to see a GP,” Dr Hambleton said.

“As the population ages, chronic diseases are accounting for an increasing proportion of a GP’s workload.

“There are now significantly more GP visits for depression, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and hypothyroidism than a decade ago.

“GPs are dealing with more problems per visit.

“They made 7.6 million more referrals to other medical specialists and 3.7 million more referrals to allied health services than a decade ago.

“GPs are ensuring that people are receiving the right care at the right time from the right health professional.

“These reports underline the unique leadership role of GPs in the health system.

“Any moves to allow other health professionals to do the work of a GP must be resisted.

“Instead, GPs must receive stronger support to maintain and build on their key role as community demand inevitably increases in coming years.

“The AMA believes that the Government needs to reform current Medicare arrangements targeting chronic disease.

“GPs are integral to keeping patients with chronic disease healthy and out of hospital, but current Medicare-funded chronic disease management arrangements are too limited, are difficult for patients to access, and involve considerable red tape and bureaucracy.

“The AMA has a plan that offers patients with multiple chronic conditions and related complex care needs improved access to GP-coordinated quality primary care.

“The AMA plan enhances existing arrangements and supports patients to spend more time with their GP when they need to.

“It provides patients with streamlined access to a broad range of allied health and other support services and it supports a more proactive approach to the delivery of care.

“GPs must be given greater support and scope to provide access to multidisciplinary care and support services for patients with chronic and complex disease,” Dr Hambleton said.

The AMA Chronic Disease Plan: Improving Care for Patients with Chronic and Complex Care Needs is at http://ama.com.au/node/5519

Key findings of the BEACH reports include:

  • In 2012-13, Australians claimed 126.8 million GP services through Medicare, at an average of about 5.6 GP visits per head of population or 6.6 visits per person who visited at least once. This equates to about 2.44 million GP-patient encounters per week.
  • On average, GPs managed about 155 problems per 100 encounters – chronic problems accounted for 36.0 per cent of all problems managed, and an average of 55.7 chronic problems were managed per 100 encounters.

20 November 2013


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                            Kirsty Waterford                02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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Published: 20 Nov 2013