The Australian Medical Association has said it is considering a proposal from the Federal Government to phase out the GP contract, after the Coalition announced plans to make it compulsory.
The AMA has released a letter from its members, which reads: “It is not good enough to simply make the GP a non-medical worker, it is time for the Government to consider the cost and benefits of phasing out the contract.”
“The AMA is concerned that the proposed changes to the GP contracts will result in more than one million fewer Australian GP services being provided, particularly as fewer people are accessing GP services,” the letter said.
“While we recognise that the GP has an important role to play in our community, the changes to GP services will have a detrimental impact on many families.”
The AMA’s move comes after the government announced plans last month to make GP services compulsory, and is the second time the AMA has been vocal about the need to ensure doctors are available to patients.
It said the GP agreement was “not fit for purpose” because it had a “negative impact on the GP’s ability to provide care, and that the costs of running the GP services could be significantly greater than the benefits”.
“The GP has a fundamental role in our society, but it should not be required to do so by a government that wants to maintain its status as a national healthcare system,” AMA chief executive David Nicholson said.
“We believe that the Government should consider the full range of possible alternatives to phase the GP out.”
The move follows a recent study commissioned by the AMA, which said the contract could cost the health system as much as $3 billion a year.
The Government said it would continue to negotiate the contracts.
In a statement, Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said the Government was looking at all options to ensure the GP “has the opportunity to provide high quality, affordable health services to our nation”.
She said the government was committed to supporting the GP as it worked to “modernise the system and make sure it is able to provide the highest quality, lowest cost health services for all Australians”.
Ms Hennessie said the move would provide “the opportunity to continue to invest in a robust GP supply and services infrastructure and continue to provide services to people, while also ensuring the GP can continue to deliver a safe and secure care”.
ABC/wiresTopics:health,health-policy,health,government-and-politics,pharmacology,gPs-and%E2%80%99pharmacy,australiaContact Rebecca TaylorMore stories from New South Wales