The latest report from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) highlights the need for urgent reforms to primary care, including access to physiotherapy and other regulated allied health professions that can alleviate the GP crisis in Australia.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) welcomes the release of the 2023 Health of the Nation report, which confirmed that the GP workforce is under pressure, and reform is needed to make primary care accessible and sustainable.
APA National President Scott Willis says using physiotherapists to their full scope of practice will relieve pressure on GPs and benefit patients.
“Everyone benefits from health professionals working to the full extent of their skills and training—importantly, it is the patient that benefits the most.
“It is important to the community and to the health system to allow physiotherapists to work at the full extent of their clinical practice. This is one of the key reforms that will help relieve the pressure on general practice and ensure patients access the right care, in the right place, at the right time and by the right provider.
“The musculoskeletal burden is a leading cause of disability and impacts close to 7 million Australians¹, the majority of whom are of working age. Unleashing the full potential of physiotherapists by enabling them to work to the full extent of their education and training, will help to address this significant musculoskeletal burden on the health system. This will drive better health outcomes, improve the utilisation of our healthcare resources and help overcome the inefficiencies in primary care and the hospital sector,” Mr Willis said.
The RACGP report noted when patients cannot access the care they need, it increases pressure on GPs, with 37 per cent of GPs saying that patient access to allied health is ‘a main issue’ for them.
Physiotherapists, as first contact practitioners, have the expertise to manage the care of patients at various stages of the chronic disease continuum.
The cost-effectiveness of physiotherapy interventions is proven both in the literature and through cost-benefit analysis. The APA has put forward evidenced reform solutions to the government, to help drive improvements in health system design, address inequities, and improve efficiencies. Enhanced use of physiotherapists in primary and community care is one of the reform solutions to help our GPs and provide better patient care.
¹Australian Physiotherapy Association (2023) Physiotherapy: High-value care for all. rep. Available at: https://australian.physio/sites/default/files/submission-2023-01/APA_Federal_Pre-Budget_Submission_2023-24.pdf
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