Counsel Assisting’s final recommendations to the royal commission for a new primary care model may lead to further fragmentation of care for aged care residents, the peak body representing doctors says.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety heard Counsel Assisting propose 124 recommendations to overhaul 18 aspects of the aged care system including health and primary care at a two-day hearing in October.

Among them they call for the establishment of a new model where general practices voluntarily apply to become accredited for aged care with each accredited GP required to enrol residents who choose to be with that practice (recommendation 62).

Counsel Assisting found that while almost everyone in aged care sees a GP, it remains unclear whether the services meet residents’ needs.

“Witnesses before the royal commission, whether residents, their families or staff, have regularly stated that it does not [meet their needs],” Counsel Assisting said in the submission.

“Primary health care practitioners are either not visiting people receiving aged care at their residences, or not visiting enough, or not spending adequate time with them to provide the care required,” it said.

Senior Counsel assisting Peter Gray QC delivers final submissions on October 22, 2020.

Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray called the proposal a “far-reaching” new primary care model to improve access to people who are living in residential aged care.

However, Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said the AMA does not support the proposal as it may discourage some GPs from providing care to aged care residents, creating a fragmented system.

“With our population living longer and entering residential aged care at older ages and in more frail states of health, we should be aiming to bring aged care and health care closer together, not further fragment them,” Dr Khorshid said.

Dr Omar Khorshid

He said the proposal risked cutting access to residents’ usual GPs.

“The AMA is very concerned that the proposed new model will be a two-tiered system where continuity of care would be discarded to the detriment of our elderly for the convenience of aged care providers,” Dr Khorshid said.

Dr Khorshid said Counsel Assisting have missed the mark when it comes to better access to health care and improving the model of GP care.

“We need to end this rudimentary separation between aged care and health care,” he said.

“For older people, continuity of care is important, as patients benefit the most from a long-term relationship with a GP,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The AMA would like to see a model that would motivate GPs to continue to care for their patients once they enter aged care. That way the goal of increasing the number of GPs participating in a system would be achieved, along with creating a system that works for both patients and their GPs,” AMA said in its submission to the royal commission.

Access the AMA’s submission here.

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1 Comment

  1. Unfortunately at the moment many GPS do not continue to treat their patients once they enter a facility. I can understand this as quite often the facility is a long way from the Dr’s. normal practice rooms and that means it may take longer to travel to and from the facility than it takes to have a consultation with the resident. That means a number of other patients may have to wait longer to see the doctor.
    In addition there are some GPs who do not attend facilities regardless of distance, although they may continue to visit the patient who remains in their own home.

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