GPs pull together to fight reform plans
AS GP frustrations at proposed healthcare reform boiled over in western Sydney this week, the AMA announced a new taskforce to protect GP interests.
The association is currently drawing together a new GP Campaign Taskforce, to be charged with assessing and tackling the threats and impacts of proposed health reform in the lead-up to next year’s federal election.
The taskforce emerged as doctors attending the recent day of action voted to establish their own body - Doctors Action - to step up the fight against government policies, involving the role of nurse practitioners and the establishment of super clinics, which they believe will weaken doctor-patient relationships.
Doctors Action is pushing for GPs to become involved in a national patient petition, and also plans to write to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd outlining its opposition to reforms.
The new AMA taskforce is set to be modelled on the former Medical Indemnity Taskforce, established during the indemnity crisis in 2003, and will focus on protecting GP interests in the face of reforms, according to AMA vice-president Dr Steve Hambleton.
Dr Hambleton, who will head the group, said its wide remit would consider the impact of touted reforms, including patient registration, pay for performance, team-care arrangements, task substitution and primary healthcare organisations.
“We are obviously wanting [grassroots] GP input from around the states, and there are a lot of GP [state] presidents, so they are all on it,” he said.
Queensland GP Dr Liam Barry, who participated in the day of action meeting online from his Townsville surgery, welcomed the new taskforce, noting many GPs felt the profession had long lacked adequate representation.
“While the [Doctors Action] meeting was important to bring these issues to public attention, I think we really need a united body to push that agenda forward before the next election.”
The announcement of the two new groups follows warnings from shadow health minister Peter Dutton (pictured) at the day of action meeting that any “disconnect” between the views of grassroots GPs and their peak representative bodies would undermine their political influence.
Nearly 100 GPs attended the meeting, organised by western Sydney GP Dr Adrian Sheen. They voiced frustration at being given little detail on the Government’s reform plans, despite three major reports touting a raft of recommendations.
Associate Professor Amanda McBride, head of general practice at the University of Notre Dame, said GPs were being marginalised by a Government that failed to acknowledge their contribution.
Doctors speak out on day of action
DR HANI BITTAR
GP, Mt Druitt, NSW
“My practice is not closed today but is [running] on a skeleton staff – we had bookings that we would not cancel. It is hard for GPs to close their doors and keep their practice [viable].
“I don’t agree with everything being said here today but I will 100% stand by anybody who takes an action against reforms that threaten the profession.”
DR GEORGE QUITTNER
GP, Mosman, NSW
“My back pocket will be appropriately lighter [as a result of my attendance]. Super clinics and private nurse practitioners have generated a vigorous response from doctors who see this as a fundamental shift in health care [delivery]. How heartbreaking that a doctor from Penrith [has] to [instigate] such a [day] and that our elected bodies have made very little impact... to protect us from damaging changes.”
DR MARK DOWSETT
GP, Cranebrook, NSW
“My practice is closed today. I am concerned about the impact of GP super clinics, the way general practice is to be funded and [the possibility of] having to spend a lot more time on paperwork with outcomes-based payments and capitation while practices that churn people through every five minutes are rewarded.”
Tags: Doctors Action, AMA, GP Campaign Taskforce, Medical Indemnity Taskforce, Steve Hambleton, health reform, nurse practitioners, GP super clinics, patient registration, pay for performance, team care arrangements, task substitution and primary healthcare org, Professional News