AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said today that, after close examination of Labor's plan for GP Super Clinics, the policy raises more questions than answers to the primary health care needs of Australian patients.
Dr Capolingua said the Labor policy provides a lot of words that correctly identify the problem but little of substance to set out practical solutions.
"What I find disturbing is that the policy does not acknowledge what GPs are already doing on preventative medicine or just how much GPs currently interact with allied health professionals," Dr Capolingua said.
"GPs are looking after patients with acute needs as well as their long term and preventative care.
"Another big problem is that the GP Super Clinics would be a 'closed shop' for doctors who will exclusively bulk bill patients. When will they learn that bulk billing is not an indicator of an efficient health system?
"We also have concerns that Super Clinics in larger regional areas would tempt doctors away from smaller country towns, leaving them without doctors and without any hope of attracting new doctors.
"The policy document is vague on the multidisciplinary health teams and fails to guarantee that GPs would at all times lead these teams. We know that for best patient care the doctor has to be the central coordinator and oversee the patient's clinical condition and needs.
"There is also an overestimation of mobile medical workforce numbers and an underestimation of the costs of establishing and running a new medical practice. "On the positive side, the proposal to provide clinical training facilities within general practice for medical students, prevocational doctors and GP registrars is welcome."
Dr Capolingua said the AMA might be more supportive of elements of the policy if there were answers to the following questions:
· who exactly does Labor believe will own and run the GP Super Clinics?
· who will have overall clinical responsibility for care in the GP Super Clinics?
·has Labor examined the extent to which chronic disease management using a multidisciplinary approach currently occurs?
·will GPs be able to provide services on a fee for service basis consistent with existing Medicare entitlements?
·will GP Super Clinics run the risk of further stripping medical services from smaller rural, regional and remote communities?