The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says it welcomes the partnership between the Victorian and NSW governments aimed at expanding urgent care services through general practice across both states.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced that 25 urgent care services will be established in partnership with local GPs to ease pressure on hospital emergency departments.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said, “There is a great deal of patient suffering when health is used as a political football and this plan signals an end to that, which the RACGP welcomes.
“This initiative begins implementing one of the aims of the primary health care 10 year plan. It makes sense for state governments to recognise the critical role general practice plays and the ability to work in the acute care and after-hours space, which is traditional territory for GPs working at full scope.”
The RACGP President also called for this to be made available to every general practice in Australia.
“This level of care should never have been defunded in the first place,” she said.
“Further, a nationwide investment would enhance the evidence-based continuity-of-care model as we know most patients prefer to see their usual trusted GP.
“Our entire health system is under immense pressure. We still have significant numbers of people in hospital with COVID-19 and other viruses including influenza. In addition, GPs and general practice teams are grappling with catch-up care for those who have delayed consultations and health screenings during the pandemic, which has led to delayed diagnosis and worsening illness. The lost decades of insufficient investment in general practice care have never been more evident than during a pandemic.
“Emergency departments in Victoria have hit crisis point, and we are seeing so many reports of ambulance ramping, code reds, and people waiting dangerously long to get the care they need. The RACGP has long been saying that general practice could work cooperatively to help ease the pressure on emergency departments.
“GPs need to be properly resourced to do the work we have been trained to do. General practice care, including preventive care work, costs far less than expensive hospital care. We are also aware that more needs to be done within hospitals to expedite those patients needing admission and an acute bed, as well as to embed long-term preventive care to patients with chronic conditions so they rarely need the use of hospital services. The RACGP looks forward to the evaluation of these clinics and to work on the concept of the ‘one health system’ to create a seamless care journey for patients in need.”