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Move to curb ‘GP-type’ ED presentations criticised
A NEW national benchmark to reduce the two million annual ‘GP-type presentations’ to emergency departments (EDs) has been criticised by doctors, who claim such objectives are based on “muddle-headed” assessments of the health system.
As part of the Australian Health Care Agreement (AHCA) struck between states and the Commonwealth in 2008, the COAG Reform Council has developed a series of health sector benchmarks.
The primary healthcare sector will now be expected to reduce preventable hospital admissions by 7.6% by 2014.
The council indicated that around two million GP-type presentations were consuming 42.5% of all ED activity.
GP-type cases are those triaged as low-risk or not arriving by an ambulance, police car or correctional vehicle.
The benchmarks were built on baseline data from sources including the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The data will be used to measure health sector improvements.
But the estimates, and the associated benchmark, have been denounced by both GPs and ED specialists.
“It is all very well to say, after the fact, this was an inappropriate attendance. But patients are not doctors or nurses and they can only deal with their perception of how unwell they feel,” said Dr David Mountain, chair of the overcrowding subcommittee of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.
“I think this is a muddle-headed way of looking at [ED] presentations.”
RACGP president Dr Chris Mitchell said greater funding of general practice was needed.
“If we want our patients to stop following the [funding] into hospitals, then the money has to be available for services in the community.”
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