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Busy GPs need more investment: AMA

Last week’s Productivity Commission Report is evidence that Australia is home to top quality GPs that require greater investment, the AMA says.

President Dr Michael Gannon said the report showed a growing demand for GPs, and a 90 per cent customer satisfaction rate.

“The Productivity Commission Report is compelling evidence that the government must provide greater investment and support for general practice,” Gannon said.

“The number of GP services in 2016–17 was 6.5 per annum per head of population, which is up from 5.9 services per head of population in 2011–12.

“There were 105.9 full service equivalent (FSE) GPs per 100,000 population in 2016–17, compared to 82.9 per 100,000 population in 2011–12.

“This reflects growing demand for GP services in the community due to the impact of complex and chronic disease, as well as an increase in GP numbers."

According to the report, about 75 per cent of patients could get an appointment with a GP within 24 hours, and four per cent said they avoided accessing GP services due to cost.

Gannon said GPs were consistently providing more services for a growing and ageing population, but report figures showed government expenditure on GP services per person only grew by 80 cents in the last year.

“GPs are providing more services for patients as the population gets older and, despite this pressure, satisfaction with these services remains high,” he said.

“This highlights the funding pressure that general practice continues to operate under, and the pressing need for the government to deliver new real investment in general practice in this year’s Budget.

“A well-resourced general practice sector can help keep patients out of hospital and save the health system money.

“The next Budget is a genuine opportunity to recognise and reward quality general practice.”

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