The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has used its 2021-2022 pre-budget submission to urge the federal government to fund team-based, integrated care to ensure Australians get the most appropriate and effective care.

APA National President Scott Willis said it is vital that physiotherapy is included in funding in the primary care setting to support our post COVID recovery.

“The COVID crisis clearly demonstrated the need for more connected healthcare options and this opens a new policy window to reshape our health system,” Mr Willis said.

“Our pre-budget submission includes several solutions to support better integration and delivery of primary health care.”

“Affordability remains the key issue for many Australians. Access to health services has become more and more difficult over the past several years as we continue to limp along with a poorly considered and largely ineffective mix of public versus private funding arrangements. It’s difficult enough to navigate for health practitioners, let alone the community who is seeking our care.”

Mr Willis said there was a real risk that the reforms underway in both preventive and primary care will be misallocated or wasted unless there is a significant shift towards prioritising effective team-based care.

“Increased funding for physiotherapy and allied health to enable more integrated care will strengthen access and ensure a well‑functioning healthcare system,” he said.

“It is clear that the opportunity to reduce wasteful spending and strengthen collaborative arrangements was lost on the MBS Taskforce.”

“Rather than embrace the evidence-based recommendations, the MBS Taskforce ignored national and international data that recommends the expansion of allied health across primary care practices, including comprehensive initial assessments, team care arrangements and group therapy.”

Mr Willis said that patients need to be the key driver of how care is delivered.

“The time has passed for incremental improvements. We need to instigate solutions beyond outdated medical models and sole discipline focus to get the best health and efficiency outcomes.”

“There is strong evidence for integrated care models that include allied health services, yet successive health budgets have continued to deliver no or insignificant change from conventional primary care.”

 “It’s time for a complete redesign to support greater levels of integration. The government can achieve efficiencies through expanding workforce roles and scopes of practice.”

“Fundamentally, we’ll see a more cost effective system and better health outcomes if we simply allow patients to be treated by physios in the primary care setting.”

The APA’s pre‑budget submission also includes a recommendation for the federal government to establish cost-effective preventive health measures, including additional investment through Primary Health Networks that allow allied health practitioners to work with GPs in primary care settings, and expanded access to mental health care teams which include physiotherapy.

For more information and to read the APA pre-budget submission please click here.

-ENDS-

Scott Willis is available for further comment.  

 
 

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