The Australian Government would be very short-sighted if it did not ensure access to physiotherapy for all Australians as part of its health system reforms, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) President, Marcus Dripps said today.

'Physiotherapy is not a luxury item – it’s a necessity for people with physical pain and illness,' Mr Dripps said.

'It is well and truly proven that access to physiotherapy significantly reduces the need for invasive surgeries and hospital beds, so to treat physiotherapy as a nice-to-have in the Government’s upcoming funding reforms would be very short-sighted.'

Mr Dripps said that the APA’s priority in its 110th year is to ensure that the Government’s agenda to move to a consumer-led healthcare system includes physiotherapy for all Australians that need access.

'The APA has worked too hard over the years in research, education and training to have our world-class physiotherapy services get lost in hospital funding reforms,' he said.

'We also need to address flaws in the current system to promote technical efficiencies that provide high quality healthcare at minimum cost.

'In this day and age, it really isn’t good enough that people living in isolated regions do not have access to Medicare-subsidised physiotherapy consultations via new audio-visual technologies.

'The APA will break down barriers to referrals and treatment session limits to ensure that physiotherapy, for major health problems such as obesity, back pain and osteoarthritis, is adequately subsidised.'

Mr Dripps said the key areas that need urgent reform include:

  • barriers that prevent physiotherapists from referring patients to medical specialists
  • inequalities for some physiotherapist-referred diagnostic imaging
  • service barriers and system-wide healthcare gaps for Indigenous communities
  • the requirement for patients’ attendance in consultations given that new technologies allow for audio-visual consultations when access to traditional services is not possible. 

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