Dr Mike Civil - RACGP Presidential Nomination 2012


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National Health Care Reform

Health care costs are mounting, the burdeon of Chronic Disease continues to grow, technological advances in the management of different illness and conditions, all continue to put financial pressures on the way that health care is delivered and managed. There is no doubt that we can not keep on doing what we have always done, when it comes to health care and the way that it is delivered to our patients. Countries around the world are all seeing the same type of issues and concerns. All of these different countries are trying to solve very similar hearlth care delivery problems. Our goal as a profession generally, is to bring equitable health care delivery to all, regardless of ethnicity, gender, disability, class and especially location.

How this can be achieved, while still remaining in systems with finite resources, particularly financial resources, will be one of the greatest challenges to face our generation of doctors and, indeed those to come. I have had the privilege of attending a number of conferences and presentations, including the International Primary Health Care Reform Conference, in Brisbane, earlier this year. We are not alone in having to face these challenges. Currently one of the key levers to help address these challenges, is the impact that ehealth and telehealth can have in helping bring equitable health care to all. There is no doubt, in my mind, that ehealth will play a crucial role in this process. But, to maximize it's chance of success will require commitment and perseverance. It is why this crucial area, will always remain one of my key focuses.

The National Health Reform Agenda also seeks to address some of these same challenges in an Australian context. The government has shown a commitment to the PCEHR, that has been in the press on a very frequent basis. The government has also committed to the development of Superclinics, Medicare Locals and has also encouraged expansion of the Nurse Practitoner role. The effectiveness of some of these solutions remains to be seen. Superclinics have come under some scrutiny and criticism. Medicare Locals have been given mandates for extensive roles in general practice delivery, particularly in the area of Aferhours Care. Nurse Practitioners will have a crucial role to play in the delivery of patient care. But all of these suggested potential solutions, will need to preserve the key position that General Practitioners will play.

GPs are the pivotal point for many of these key agendas. The GPs role and position in delivery of primary care can never be underestimated. Only one person can fully fill the role that is the patient's primary care provider, and that person is a general practitioner. Someone, who has had appropriate training and support from its professional College. A GP's role can not be replaced by another person, less qualified. We are able to play our part in a patient's health care, due to our experience, our training and our education.

The RACGP has a crucial role in supporting GPs, advocating on their behalf, ensuring that the views of those doctors on the front line are adequately represented. The RACGP and the College President, must continue to ensure that our government is frequently made aware of the importance of our role in primary care and indeed our role in many of the Health Care Reform processes. If we are not involved, we can not influence and make our views heard. Whether we are a nominated healthcare provider for a PCEHR, or a board member of a Medicare Local, we can only influence things, if we are involved, if we are engaged, as a profession.

Without adequate and appropriate engagement from the government to our profession, many of the suggested Health Care Reform agenda items are destined to failure. The RACGP has endeavoured to ensure that there is engagement and has encouraged involvement with the processes that are on the government agendas, and it is crucial that these efforts continue for the long term.

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Dr Michael S Civil. RACGP number: 530636. Stirk Medical Group, 8 Canning Road, Kalamunda, WA 6076