‘Keep GPs at centre of aged care’

3 minute read

The AMA recommends increasing current MBS items for aged care patients by up to 50%, as well as prioritising continuity of care.

Keeping GPs well informed and better compensated are among the key recommendations made by the AMA in a new economic analysis, which claims billions could be saved each year on unnecessary hospital admissions.

The final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety contained a controversial recommendation to overhaul fee-for-service by introducing a capitation model.

Under this scheme, general practices would enrol to become aged care-accredited and receive an annual fee for every aged care patient they enrol.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid told The Medical Republic the model proposed by the Royal Commission was unrealistic and potentially damaging to the sector.

“Our view is that the model for general practice proposed by the Royal Commission is not workable, and would not result in an increase in the GP workforce [in aged care],” Dr Khorshid said.

“It could, in fact, have the opposite outcome, with GPS leaving aged care in droves due to the increased requirements of that proposed model.”

The economic analysis conducted by the AMA estimates that a Government investment of $643 million over four years into GPs working in aged care could save up to $21.2 billion in avoidable hospital admissions.

On an individual consult level, this would increase rebates for GPs attending nursing homes by 50%.

According to Dr Khorshid, these rebates would compensate GPs for the additional time spent doing tasks like developing aged care plans in conjunction with patients’ families.

“It’s not as simple as only relying on attendance items and GPs attending patients, but also reimbursing GPs for providing the care in between the consults as well as the care at the consult,” he told TMR.

This recommendation forms part of a wider effort from the AMA to prioritise continuation of care.

“We’re very keen for any model of GP service in aged care to respect existing therapeutic relationships which in some cases can go back decades,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The system should both allow and encourage these existing relationships to continue.”

In the same vein, the AMA also recommends implementing feedback loops within the aged care system and increasing the interoperability of systems like My Aged Care with clinical software used by GPs.

According to the AMA, the current system for GPs in aged care is fragmented, opaque and often offers minimal incentive.

“If the patient ends up in a nursing home, their GP is often limited in the care they can provide,” the AMA wrote.  

“Access to nursing homes and high-quality patient records can be difficult and involve substantial unpaid work, and sometimes a change to a different GP is imposed.”

Over the course of the Royal Commission, the AMA submitted several papers for consideration and appeared in front of the Commission on three occasions.

The Government is expected to respond to the proposed recommendations of the Royal Commission in Parliament by 31 May 2021.

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