Pandemic exposes need for health reform

·2-min read

Doctors say the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed big flaws in a health system already struggling with other pressures.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners President Karen Price said she was proud to see so many GPs and medical leaders recognised in the Queen's Birthday honours after a challenging few years.

However, she said it was also time to recognise long-term reforms were needed to ensure the future of general practice, and patient care.

"The RACGP is all too aware that our health system is under enormous strain and that more support is needed urgently, particularly for general practice," she said.

"This is not only due to the impacts of the pandemic, but also because Australia is grappling with rising rates of chronic disease, an ageing population, and a mental health crisis."

She said Australians deserved access to high-quality GP care regardless of their postcode or income.

"Lack of access to primary care leads to poorer health outcomes for patients, and increasing emergency department pressures, as we are seeing across the country," Professor Price said.

"But on the other hand, we know investment in general practice will improve patient health and wellbeing and result in efficiencies for the whole health system.

"The solution is right in front of us, the government needs to act now."

Health funding is expected to be discussed at this Friday's national cabinet meeting - the first to be chaired by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Meanwhile, Australia reported nearly 21,000 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday as reproductive rates of the virus plateau around the country.

Sunday also saw far fewer deaths, with 24 reported, compared to 70 on Saturday.

Saturday's death toll was the highest in more than a fortnight but also included unreported fatalities in South Australia from earlier in the year.

There are roughly 220,000 active virus cases across the country.

The effective reproductive rate of the virus in every state and territory sits at about one, meaning one infected person is infecting at least one other person.


Victoria: 5079 cases, three deaths, 444 in hospital with 23 in ICU

NSW: 4600 cases, three deaths, 1287 in hospital with 40 in ICU

Queensland: 2513 cases, one death, 358 in hospital with five in ICU

NT: 110 cases, no deaths, 18 in hospital with one in ICU

WA: 4802 cases, two deaths, 253 in hospital with seven in ICU

SA: 2022 cases, two deaths, 244 in hospital with five in ICU

Tasmania: 489 cases, no deaths, 49 in hospital with three in ICU.

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