• 5th Dec 2022

Paramedics recognised as a key primary care workforce in Medicare reform



Monday 5 December 2022

The Australasian College of Paramedicine (the College) welcomes the recognition of paramedics as a key primary healthcare workforce in the Grattan Institute’s new report recommending an overhaul of the beleaguered national Medicare system and the nationwide adoption of multidisciplinary health teams to provide better health services for all Australians.

The release on Sunday of the Institute’s “A new Medicare: Strengthening general practice” report details an outdated system that is currently not fit for purpose and unable to respond to the rise of chronic disease or tackle the disparities that exist in access to care, rates of disease, and life expectancy.

The report calls for a reshaping of the health landscape into one in which general practice becomes a “team sport”, with clinicians from a range of disciplines sharing the load under the leadership of GPs. Paramedics and community paramedicine are an integral component of that new landscape, and are identified as among the clinicians for whom there is “a very significant gap between the contribution they are able to make, and what funding and policy let them do in Australia”.

“The College has been advocating tirelessly with the federal and state governments for the wider integration of paramedics in primary health care and the introduction of innovative new models of community paramedicine,” said College CEO John Bruning.

“Paramedics are versatile and highly capable clinicians able to operate in a range of settings to provide more holistic person-centred care both in clinics as part of multidisciplinary health care teams and in the community to ensure better public health outcomes and person-centred patient care.

“We welcome the Grattan Institute’s forward-thinking recommendations and look forward to working with health departments throughout Australia to ensure paramedicine takes its place alongside other health professions in what will be a new era for the health sector.”

The growing demand for health services is overwhelming GPs, hospital staff and health clinics, with patients negatively impacted by a struggling health system, particularly poorer Australians who are twice as likely to have multiple chronic diseases than the wealthy, and communities in rural, regional and remote areas of country who routinely experience health workforce shortages and limited access to health services.

The College also supports changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule to enable paramedics and allied health professionals to perform and bill primary health care services. As the report noted, international reviews have found that the funding model Australia uses for primary care is a profound barrier to multidisciplinary care and that general practices make minimal progress towards team-oriented care when funded under this model.

“The future of our health system will be shaped by new models of care that deliver better outcomes for our health staff and our communities. To achieve this, governments must recognise that the public is best served by a diverse health workforce and adequately fund these much-needed reforms.”

Media Contact: Lindsey Salas, Good Talent Media, on 0416 335 886 or Lindsey@goodtalent.com.au

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