RACGP on The Hill for final pre-budget sitting days

3 minute read

Six weeks out from budget night, the GP college is on the ground taking last-minute meetings with the powers that be.

GPs have descended on the nation’s capital in the last sitting week of parliament before the federal budget is revealed.  

RACGP president Dr Nicole Higgins told The Medical Republic that the college contingent numbered about 20.   

“It’s a big week,” she said. 

“We’ve got GPs in parliament, we’ve got GPs speaking with MPs and decision-makers about who we are, what we do, how we do it and why it’s important to fund us.” 

There are also several high-stakes meetings scheduled – one with the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, another on the Scope of Practice Review and one on GP training.  

The RACGP teased its “scathing” response to the first issues paper in a NewsGP article this week, but won’t release its full submission until April.   

“I’m meeting with the Health Minister this afternoon and I’ve met with various reviewers this morning to let them know what the temperature is in the room with GPs around Australia regarding the Scope of Practice Review,” Dr Higgins said. 

There is a fundamental misunderstanding, the RACGP president said, about how different the training for GPs is compared to allied health professions.  

“When we work together and collaborate together, we can provide great team-based support within general practice, but we need to be very careful that we don’t go down the pathway of failing health systems like the UK and Canada,” she said. 

“Decisions are being made now without waiting for the recommendations from the Scope of Practice Review, and that causes a great deal of concern.”  

Last week, Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney introduced a bill to parliament that would repeal the requirement for collaborative arrangements between nurse practitioners and doctors.  

The second issues paper from the review will be released around 14 April, and Dr Higgins hinted that it was likely to have some “spiky bits”.  

In terms of budget asks, a GP registrar leave package is arguably the biggest item on the list this year.  

The RACGP, AMA and GPRA have each submitted their own vision for a scheme to provide GPs-in-training with parental and study leave that will continue to accrue as they move between training places.  

Each scheme differs slightly.  

The GPRA proposal, which involves an independent industry endowment, came in the cheapest at just $42 million over a decade.  

Next was the AMA’s proposal, which would cost about $18 million in its first year and $27 million every year following.  

The idea that the RACGP put forward was the most expensive, coming in at $31 million per annum.  

Other big calls from the RACGP were to reinstate the BEACH GP data collection study and to introduce one-off payments of $32,000 to first-year GP registrars.  

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