More funding for longer GP consultations is just one of the recommendations put forward by the RACGP ahead of next week’s Federal Budget.
In their Pre-Budget Submission, the RACGP advocated for a range of improvements including:
- providing an increase of at least 18.5% in funding for level C and D consultations to reduce patient out-of-pocket costs and enable GPs to continue to deliver high quality care to patients with complex needs
- introducing a level E consultation (i.e., over 60 minutes)
- aligning GP rebates with those of other medical specialists (accounting for years of training)
- enabling greater recognition for practice nurse time
- amending MBS requirements that consultations must be face-to-face, to allow for communication via electronic methods where appropriate
- introducing funding for longer mental health consultations.
As all of our QUEST practices are aware, offering longer consultations is one of the key enhanced services targeted in the trial. Our baseline data suggest that in the 12 months prior to the trial, 65.4% of appointments between QUEST participants and their preferred GPs were level B, 28.3% level C and 3.7% level D consultations. We are hoping to see a shift in these rates over the course of the trial.
Longer appointments have been linked with higher patient satisfaction, better quality prescribing, ability to adequately address multiple health and psychosocial issues and opportunities for preventive activities. Our upcoming 6-month survey will help us to see how this is going for the practices and patients involved in Flinders QUEST.
With the Budget due for release next Tuesday 2 April we look forward to seeing how the Government has addressed the RACGP’s recommendations and the resulting implications for general practice!