In a recent meeting with the Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Minister for Regional Health David Gillespie, the AMA and the other four peak general practice organisations discussed the challenges facing general practice and the support needed to ensure GPs can stay open and deliver the essential high quality care Australians need at this time.
The meeting aimed at improving coordination for COVID-19 care within the general practice and primary care sector to ensure strong access for patients. It being essential for patient outcomes that general practice is well positioned to meet the needs of the community. Securing the pathways forward for in-community COVID care is key to ongoing pandemic management.
The peak organisations put forward a series of practical solutions needed for general practice doors to remain open, including:
Expansion of telehealth services to a scope similar to earlier in the pandemic to improve access to health care for Australians during the current, and possibly future, waves. This would include primary care and specialist items which play an essential role in health care.
An adequate supply of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to general practices.
The urgent need for rapid antigen tests (RATs) to general practices to enable them to provide a safe environment for both staff and patients.
Prioritisation and urgent distribution of RATs into rural and remote areas to secure patient and practitioner access in areas where not accessible to the state-run hubs currently tasked with distributing RATs.
Support and resources for general practices to coordinate the care of COVID-19-positive patients in the community.
A public health communication strategy on self-care pathways to alleviate the load on hospitals, GPs and their staff. Suggested resources included the National Coronavirus Helpline (1800 020 080), RACGP Home Care Guidelines and healthdirect Monitoring COVID-19 symptoms.
The group is looking forward to the Government’s responses to these requests and welcomed the Department’s commitment to meet again within two weeks.
The peak bodies attending the meeting were Australian Medical Association (AMA), Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO).
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