The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed new recommendations relating to concussion and head trauma.
It comes following the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs Reference Committee releasing its final report into concussions and repeated head trauma in contact sports.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said that many of the recommendations held great promise.
“It’s great to see that many of the RACGP’s suggestions were heeded in the final committee report,” she said.
“As a GP and a mum of children who play contact sport, I know only too well the importance of getting all the policy settings right when it comes to concussion and head trauma. I welcome the committee recommending establishing a National Sports Injury Database to help address the lack of sports injury data available in Australia. New independent research pathways dedicated to coordinating research into the short and long-term effects of concussion and repeated head trauma would also be very beneficial.
“I support the committee recommending sporting organisations explore rule modifications. This is not about banning contact sport or anything like that because as a GP I want people enjoying the sports they love. Rather, it’s simply about making sensible changes to certain sports to reduce the impact of concussion and head trauma. Similarly, I think a national strategy featuring binding return to play protocols and other rules to protect people playing sport is the right way forward to ensure there are no ‘gaps’ leaving some participants out in the cold.
“We shouldn’t only be focussed on healthcare workers, so improving community awareness and education regarding concussion and head trauma is a sensible measure. This includes helping people recognise symptoms of concussion, so that they know what to look out for when playing sport or watching other people do so.
“The committee has recommended the federal Government work with the states and territories to consider how best to address calls for the development of standardised, evidence-based concussion and head trauma guidelines for GPs as well as suitable GP consults and increased training for first aid responders. The College will be keeping a close eye on whether progress is made on this front, because these are steps that we must get right.”
The RACGP President said that other measures would make a real difference in helping people experiencing concussion and head trauma.
"Let's go even further," she said.
“This year’s Budget contained many promising elements including a new Medicare items for longer GP consultations lasting more than an hour. Something else that would be beneficial for patients suffering from concussion or head trauma is increasing Medicare rebates for consults lasting 20 to 40 minutes as well as those lasting 40 minutes to an hour. Taking care of a patient who has been concussed or suffered head trauma simply can’t be rushed. Despite very strong inroads being made in the Budget, further improvements need to be made to the Medicare structure so that it doesn’t devalue longer consultations.
“This report should act as a wake-up call and with the right kind of action taken by government we can limit the damage caused by concussion and head trauma. We don’t want kids and adults walking away from contact sport, far from it. We just need to make sport safer and protect the health and wellbeing of participants in communities across Australia; this is something that must be a priority in the years ahead.”,
RACGP spokespeople are available for interview.
About the RACGP
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.
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