A message from GPRA CEO Dr Andrew Gosbell.
With the release of the 2021/22 Federal Budget comes a number of new healthcare initiatives and extensions to current initiatives. The biggest potential impact in this budget for GP trainees will be in the areas of mental health, aged care, rural health, and COVID-19 related initiatives (including vaccination rollout and continuing telehealth).
GPRA is continuing to advocate for GP trainees
GPRA will be liaising with the Department of Health regarding the implementation and roll-out of initiatives and programs related to these budget announcements and will ensure that members are informed of any developments that relate to GP trainees. That being said, GP trainees may notice that there is no mention in this budget of the GP training program or GP registrar employment models. Please be assured that these key issues are ongoing pieces of advocacy between GPRA, GP training stakeholders, and the Department of Health.
Going forward, GPRA’s primary focus with the Department, and other stakeholders, is to ensure the smooth transition of the GP training program from the Department to the GP Colleges (ACRRM and RACGP) and to continue to seek positive reforms for all trainees in future GP registrar employment models.
As always, we will keep you updated on our advocacy and progress.
The main, specific initiatives which will be of effect and of interest to GP trainees include the following:
- $204.6 million to extend telehealth measures until 31 December 2021.
- $253.1 million for a specific, temporary COVID-19 vaccination Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item.
- $87.5 million for the extended operation of up to 150 GP-led Respiratory Clinics through to 31 December 2021.
- $58.8 million to support GPs in primary mental healthcare and grow the mental health workforce.
- $34.2 million to support GPs in their role as a key entry point into the mental health system by expanding and implementing the Initial Assessment and Referral tool in primary care settings.
- $15.9 million to support GPs and other medical practitioners to provide primary mental healthcare through new training and development opportunities, qualifications, and guidelines.
- $2.6 million to provide tailored mental health supports to health practitioners and reduce the stigma associated with health practitioners seeking support for their own mental health.
- $49.4 million increased funding directed towards training to improve aged care workers’ knowledge and practice in dementia and palliative care, including dementia training available for an additional 1,000 GPs and GP registrars per year.
- $42.8 million to boost the Aged Care Access Incentive from 1 July 2021 to increase face-to-face servicing by GPs within residential aged care facilities.
Rural Health and Other initiatives
- $50.7 million to continue to develop an ICT system that enables a voluntary patient registration initiative, to be known as MyGP.
- $65.8 million in the first four years, which will be ongoing and demand-driven, to implement a progressive incentive schedule that increases the Rural Bulk Billing Incentive payments for doctors working in remote areas and rural towns.