The Grattan Institutes suggests that Medicare is no longer effective for patients and doctors, in its latest report.
The Institution is suggesting major revamps for Australia’s universal healthcare system. At the core of the Grattan’s argument is changing how general practitioners work and are paid.
“GPs’ work has become much more complex, as the population has grown older and rates of mental ill-health and chronic disease have climbed. But the way we structure and fund general practice hasn’t kept up,” Grattan states.
“Despite patient care becoming more complex, appointments have been stuck at an average length of 15 minutes for the past two decades. GPs are struggling to meet their patients’ needs, and they lack the support of a broader team of health professionals to do so.”
The Grattan report has three main recommendations.
Firstly, to improve access to healthcare by making general practice more team focused, with current GPs workloads shared with more clinicians. This includes funding 1,000 new nurses, physiotherapists, mental health clinicians, pharmacists, and other allied health workers in the highest-need communities.”
“To achieve this, the federal government will have to dismantle the regulatory and funding barriers that force GPs to go it alone. To accelerate the change, 1,000 more clinicians, such as nurses and physiotherapists, should be employed in general practices in the communities that need them most.”
Secondly, changing how GPs are paid. The current method discourages GPs from working with teams, benefitting GPs that work with many patients quickly, rather than spending more time with patients that require more care.
Thirdly, providing “clinics the data, funding, and support they need to give the best possible care to their patients.”
The report challenges the recent reports from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners that say there is a shortage of GPs. The AMA suggests increasing Medicare rebates, after-hours care funding, and the number of programs designed to attract and retain general practice trainees.
The Grattan Institute suggests that the $250 million a year that the Albanese government has already budgeted to fix Medicare be used to fund the report’s recommendations, to create “a new Medicare that is ready for the decades ahead.”
The Grattan Institute’s full report can be read here.