Prevention key to tackle Australia’s chronic disease epidemic

Royal Australian College of GPs

Patients need more affordable chronic disease care – that’s the message the RACGP is sending the Federal Government in response to consultation on a new National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions.

Royal Australian College of GPs President Dr Nicole Higgins said: “Nearly half of all Australians have one or more chronic diseases – we need to invest more in prevention and management in primary care, so people don’t end up in hospital.

The RACGP is calling for higher patient Medicare rebates for longer consultations to better support Australians with chronic disease. This care is complex, and GPs need more time to spend with patients.

“The rebate is the amount the government pays to subsidise healthcare for Australians. And in the current cost-of-living crisis it’s more important than ever that the government subsidies cover the cost of providing care, so it’s affordable for everyone.

“But after decades of underfunding of general practice care, including the 10-year Medicare freeze, today’s rebates don’t come close to the real-life cost of providing care across Australia.

“The cost of providing care has been increasing significantly. The latest consumer price index update shows health inflation rose 6.1% in the 12-months to April – higher than any other category, aside from alcohol and tobacco, and insurance and financial services. Medical and hospital services were the main contributor to the rise.

“The greatest burden of chronic illness is experienced by disadvantaged groups, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those living in rural and remote communities. Government policies and decisions must work to close the gap for these groups.

“Health policy and funding must support a patient-centred approach and multidisciplinary team care – this gets the best health outcomes. Multidisciplinary team care is when GPs are supported to work together with other specialists, allied health and other primary care professionals to get the best outcomes for the patient.”

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/Public Release.