The AMA’s new report found that demand for family doctor services increased by 58 percent between 2009 and 2019.
The report, ‘The GP Practice Staff: Why the Neglect Must Endis a detailed examination of the extent and causes of the GP shortage and proposes solutions as part of the AMA’s plan to modernize Medicare Campaign.
AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the AMA’s projections show no abatement in future demand for general medicine.
“We are staring at this unimaginable shortage of GPs in our future and our projections show that this pressure is simply not going to let up.
“We simply should not be in this position, but it is clear that the short-sighted policies of successive Commonwealth governments have failed the community.
“It should come as no surprise that given the impact of the extended freeze on Medicare GP rebates, the cuts in pre-professional GP traineeships and governments’ abject failure to fill all of our available GP traineeships each year, we are supporting the GP practice must address the increasingly complex healthcare needs of the community.
“The Commonwealth has spoken about the value of general medicine but has not backed that rhetoric with concrete action. Instead, we’re seeing knee-jerk reactions, including from state governments, that are undermining the role of a patient’s usual family doctor, fragmenting care and doing nothing to address the systemic problems we have.
“We need long-term solutions to improve access to GP-led care for patients, including in rural and remote areas that are hardest hit by labor shortages. Right now we need all levels of government to work together with the health sector to solve the problems of GPs. These state-based quick fixes are not the answer.
“Our report shows that the most cost-effective approach with the best outcomes for patients is GP-led primary care. We aim to work with pharmacists, psychologists and other allied healthcare providers as part of a collaborative team for each patient,” said Professor Robson.
“The GPs we have now, who have borne the burden of the pandemic, are doing their best but cannot hope to stem the coming wave of demand.
“We are on the verge of reaching the peak of the 4th wave of COVID-19 as we try to address the two-year backlog caused by the pandemic. Our GPs are on the front lines of care and need to be adequately supported to provide the care Australians desperately need,” said Professor Robson.
Main Findings in The GP Practice Staff: Why the Neglect Must End
- Between 2009 and 2019, demand for GP services grew 4.7 percent annually (an aggregate growth of 58 percent), equivalent to the workload of 10,200 full-time GPs. In the last five years, 2016–In 2021, the workforce was expanded by the equivalent of just 4,200 full-time GPs, suggesting GPs have been working under increased pressure to keep up with demand and are now stretched to the breaking point.
- Demand will continue to grow, and even accounting for the future workforce, there will be a projected shortage of over 10,600 full-time GPs by 2031–32 if strategies to attract and retain GP labor are not put in place.
- Demand for GP services is driven by population growth (1.6 percent), aging (0.2 percent), more frequent visits by patients to their GPs (1.7 percent growth), and more time with the GP at each consultation (1.2 percent Growth).
- A Western Australian study found that for every full-time GP, Australia needs to train two additional GPs to cover changing workforce patterns.
- The prevalence of chronic diseases in Australia cannot be underestimated. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that nearly half (47 per cent, or more than 11 million people) of Australians have at least one chronic condition and one in five (20 per cent, or 4.9 million people) have multiple chronic conditions.
- Studies consistently show that continuity of care with the same primary care physician reduces ED presentations. An Australian study has shown that regular treatment by a family doctor reduces frequent hospitalizations by up to 11 percent.
For more information see: https://www.ama.com.au/articles/general-practitioner-workforce-why-neglect-must-end?check_logged_in=1
Read the report: