More money needed for aged care
THE federal government has been advised it needs to invest more into GP aged care services in next week’s federal budget – in addition to the $3.7 billion package it unveiled last month – if it is to tackle the shortage of GPs visiting elderly people at home or in nursing homes.
Doctors’ groups say that, despite its ambitious scope, the long awaited ‘Living Longer, Living Better’ package – centred around keeping more older Australians in their homes for longer – committed too little spending to getting more older patients access to a GP while providing scant detail on how the money would be spent.
Government documents claim 30% of admissions of older people to hospital could be avoided if patients had access to a GP. But the AMA has argued the $14.2 million to improve access to GPs via video consultations ignores the additional house calls that will be needed as a result of shifting care out of aged care facilities.
The package commits $80.2 million over five years to “strengthen the interface between health and aged care systems” and $25 million to “encourage aged care providers to work with public and private healthcare providers and medical insurers”.
But it made no mention of any greater incentive payments to GPs.
“It’s simply not economically viable for GPs at the moment to leave their surgeries to do house calls,” AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said.
“Medicare Locals are not going to solve that problem.”
RACGP president Dr Claire Jackson said that, while the package was well received overall, it failed to include key details on how the spending would improve clinical practice.
A spokesperson for the minister for aged care, Mark Butler, said while some details of the package were still to be determined, the government had sufficiently explained its reform.