The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) welcomes the Government’s Budget measures, including increased investment in Residential Aged Care, allied health Rural Generalist Pathways, access to primary care and mental health. This funding will deliver substantial improvements.
However, systemic reform that supports and expands the role of physiotherapy in multidisciplinary practice is key to achieving better health outcomes for all Australians.
There is a massive investment in many areas of healthcare, and the APA applauds the Morrison Government for recognising the funding needed to fill gaps and deliver better health services and a stronger health workforce.
The APA welcomes the Budget funding initiatives, in particular:
- $3.9 billion over four years from 2021-22 to increase the amount of front line care (care minutes) delivered to 240,000 aged care residents and 67,000 who access respite services, by 1 October 2023. This will be mandated at 200 minutes per day, including 40 minutes with a registered nurse;
- $365.7 million to improve access to primary care and other health services in residential aged care, and additional investment in digital and face-to-face assistance to make it easier to navigate the aged care system;
- $9.6 million to expand the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway to support more allied health professionals to train in rural and remote Australia;
- $2.3billion will be spent on mental health in total, including a national suicide prevention office;
- $14.2 million to list six new items on the MBS for allied health providers who participate in case conferencing.
- The extension of telehealth funding until the end of 2021.
“Whilst we welcome this funding, it isn’t just about pumping money into the health system – it’s about redesigning it so that people can have unencumbered access to the care they need. This is a step in the right direction, but much more could have been done to enable a contemporary, seamless patient journey through reforms in primary and preventive care” says Scott Willis, National President of the APA.
The APA wants to see the massive funding announced in the Budget accompanied by systemic reforms, and notes that despite modest support for collaborative models of care it remains overwhelmingly GP focused.
We urged the Federal Government to support innovative models of care, including reform of primary care that allows patient access to Medicare-funded physiotherapy as first contact practitioners.
We also urged the Government to support the MBS Review’s Recommendations on allied health, which would deliver evidence-based savings and efficiencies into primary care.
The APA has called for support for collaborative care models, Medicare-funded first contact physio, promotion of multidisciplinary care, working to top of scope for physiotherapy, allied health and related service integration and trial opportunities for scope of practice that build skills and multidisciplinary care teams. We continue to work with Government to secure their support for these measures.
Scott Willis is available for further comment.
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