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RACGP commends ‘smart investment’ to support rural and regional GPs in Tasmania

Royal Australian College of GPs 3 mins read

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has welcomed Tasmanian Liberals’ commitment to attract more GPs to rural and regional areas and support to help patients receive much-needed care.

The Tasmanian Liberals announced that if re-elected, they would pay up to $100,000 of HECS student debt for up to 40 GPs who work in the state’s rural and regional areas for at least five years, fund a rapid response team of 10 GPs to be deployed to local practices as needed, and provide multi-year funding of up to $250,000 annually as flexible grants to sustain general practices.

RACGP Tasmania Chair and Launceston GP, Dr Toby Gardner welcomed the commitment to a stronger general practice workforce, but cautioned that the challenge of GP access in rural and regional areas will remain a challenge.

“With increasing costs to study medicine, the potential of a lower HECS balance is a strong draw for young doctors who are thinking about specialist GP training,” he said.

“Multi-year funding to grow our practice teams, attract GPs, improve our practices, or stay open for longer is also welcome. We have seen that funding gets results in general practice, and the Tasmanian Liberals’ commitment to general practice care is something other states and territories should consider as a model. Strong general practices keep people out of hospital, where costs to government are significantly higher. It’s a smart investment, and helps patients lead healthier, happier lives.

“We do need to bear in mind that the GPs who take part in the rapid response team will have to come from somewhere. We’ve seen the challenges our practices, and especially our rural and remote practices, have had in getting the GPs they need. The incentive of a lower HECS debt to pay off is a strong incentive for many young GPs, but we need to ensure we have a sustainable profession into the future.

“Attracting more junior doctors into the profession is vital. But we need to ensure there is the necessary ongoing Medicare funding there to keep rural and regional practices viable and accessible for their patients. We also need to ensure, as with any new approach, that the implementation and outcomes match the intention. The best way to do that is with continued consultation with GPs.

“We look forward to working with Tasmania’s next government to implement their agenda. As GPs, we want a strong primary healthcare system and we’re the ones best placed to make sure policies work in practice.”

Dr Gardner also welcomed the party’s commitment to amend the Poisons Act to allow GPs to prescribe stimulants independently for patients with ADHD and fund two GPs with a special interest in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“This is a really important area where Tasmanians have said they need support,” Dr Gardner said.

“While we await further detail, we have said that GPs are ready to step up to help patients and their families with ADHD. It’s an area where GPs already give our patients a lot of support, and the ability to make access to medication less complex, expensive, and stressful for patients who need it is something we strongly support.

“At the moment there are too many barriers to treatment, especially in rural and regional areas. Getting appointments with specialists is a challenge, and the cost of these appointments. GPs As the federal Barriers to consistent, timely and best practice assessment of ADHD inquiry report said, GPs can make ADHD treatment far more accessible for our patients, from diagnosis to medication management.”

~ENDS


About us:

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.

Visit www.racgp.org.au. To unsubscribe from RACGP media releases, click here.


Contact details:

John Ronan
Media Adviser

Ally Francis
Media Adviser

Stuart Winthrope
Media Officer

Contact: 03 8699 0992media@racgp.org.au

Follow us on Twitter: @RACGP and Facebook.

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