The Federal Government has committed to quality health care reform with the release of the 2023-24 Federal Budget last night, through measures that enable multidisciplinary care, invest in more Urgent Care Clinics and provide a much-needed boost to Medicare.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) had proposed new models of care in its Pre-Budget submission and is pleased to see the Federal Government’s commitment to the utilisation of the full health workforce to relieve pressure on emergency departments and hospitals.
“This is a step forward for the quality of healthcare in Australia. Focusing on the foundation of our primary health care system in Medicare and providing funding for multidisciplinary healthcare teams will enable faster access to quality care for patients across the country,” said APA National President Scott Willis.
The APA particularly welcomed the investment of $79.4 million over four years to strengthen the role of allied health in multi-disciplinary teams within Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to improve the management of chronic conditions and reduce avoidable hospitalisations.
“Patients have been unable to access quality care where and when they need it for too long. The Labor Government has listened to the APA’s proposals for reform in this space and we look forward to continuing to work with the Government to refine this model further.”
“We’re also pleased to see the Budget’s commitment of $445 million over five years to increase funding for the Workforce Incentive Program (WIP). We welcome the investment into allied health and emphasise that the WIP needs to support a flexible and sustainable physio workforce in the future,“ said Mr Willis.
The funding allocated by the Government in this Budget to additional Urgent Care Clinics (UCC) will also allow the APA to continue work in this space and advocate for improved quality, access to and value of care for Australians. The success of the UCC model will require the skills of the entire health workforce, and the APA continues to urge Government to ensure that physiotherapy is brought into these clinics.
“Reform isn’t just about funding the existing health system — it’s about redesigning it so that people can have unencumbered and cost-efficient access to the care they need. We’re happy to see the Government is dedicating the investment into these new models,” said Mr Willis.
The APA also called for digital health reform in its 10-year vision white paper and is encouraged to see this endorsed with the Government’s commitment of $6.1 million to support allied health professionals to develop connections to My Health Record.
“Musculoskeletal conditions are the second-most common reason people visit their GP, with many patients then sent off for imaging and ending up back at their physiotherapist for further treatment. The sharing of information through a digital MHR allows for a smoother patient journey and removes some of the barriers currently in place, and that’s certainly a welcome development,” said Mr Willis.
“Whilst we are pleased with the steps taken in this Budget towards health reform, there’s more work to be done and we intend to continue to work with Government on the next steps of reform for our health system. The funding allocated by the Federal Government in this Budget to general practitioners is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the whole solution,” said Mr Willis.
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