More needs to be done for veterans missing out on care

Royal Australian College of GPs

More can be done to ensure veterans can access the care they need for chronic conditions, says the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP).

In a submission to an independent evaluation of the Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) Program, the peak body for GPs called for improvements to the scheme to help veterans access care.

The CVC provides funding for care coordination in general practice for Veteran Gold Card holders with chronic conditions and Veteran White Card holders with chronic Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)-accepted mental health conditions.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said simple changes to the CVC would improve access to care for more veterans.

“It’s crucial that returning veterans get the care and support they need throughout their lives, and general practice is at the heart of coordinated care, and any support work,” she said.

“The RACGP has been a longtime supporter of the CVC. It’s an example of how best to fund general practice care for patients. Simple changes to the program will mean more veterans can get the care they need, and GPs can help them manage chronic conditions early.

“We’re calling for the CVC to be expanded to include White Card holders over 50 with a chronic condition so that patients can be enrolled earlier in their lives. Currently, these patients can only access the scheme for a chronic health condition if they also have a DVA-accepted mental health issue.

“These changes will increase access for veterans, and mean GPs can catch chronic disease earlier, and help patients get on top of it, for better health outcomes. GPs are expert in managing chronic conditions, and the earlier patients come to us, the better their health will be in the long run, which also means less pressure on hospitals and the health system.

“There also needs to be more funding for veterans to get the care they need. The indexation of the DVA schedule is too low and doesn’t come close to the cost of providing care, which means some practices are unable to accept Veteran Cards. This needs to be addressed urgently to improve access to care.

“We’re also recommending DVA introduce a GP awareness campaign to promote the program. Many GPs are currently unaware of DVA support to provide wrap-around care for veterans. Greater awareness of this valuable program among GPs will improve access to care for patients who need it.”


/Public Release.