Greetings to everyone in the Central and Eastern Sydney PHN footprint, especially members of the Central Sydney GP Network. CSGPN has currently about 550 members comprising of GPs, practice managers and nurses. Central Sydney covers almost 40% of the PHN region which serves 1.5 million people. It is important that general practice continues to play a central role in health care delivery working in collaboration with tertiary specialist services, community health and private health practitioners.

Earlier diagnosis means people are living longer with diagnosed chronic disease resulting in the exponential growth in required care over their lifetime.

GPs are increasingly seeing more of these patients in their consultations in contrast to just scripts or simple consultations. Twenty years ago, I would spend an average of half to one hour post session on administrative paperwork; now the average is more like two hours of non-paid hours just to keep up with writing referrals, checking results, recalling patients, talking and liaising with other health professionals, government departments, workplaces, family and carers, etc… this is the changing face of general practice. Increasing paperwork, red tape and lack of resources in general practice has crippled our workforce making it increasingly stressful for GPs striving to work in a challenging Medicare environment.

In 2014 taxpayers spent $6.3 billion on GP services through Medicare, only about six per cent of the total government health expenditure. Expenditure on GP services has increased by $2.1 billion over 10 years, or approximately $60 more per person.

So, it makes sense, to ensure that the health system is sustainable, we should be utilising its cheapest and most efficient arm: general practice; however GPs need to be supported to maintain quality and standard of practice. Our primary health network can provide this assistance. However, GP practices need to get involved in CSGPN as this is the conduit by which CSGPN advocates on your behalf to ensure that CESPHN knows we are interested in local solutions for local needs of our patients. We are consulted by CESPHN for our feedback and in turn the primary health network needs to feedback to us what has been done to resolve these issues. CSGPN continues to hold CESPHN accountable for being responsive to GPs’ needs. We ask the PHN to continue to develop better ways of engaging and listening to GPs.

GPs also want better resources to make general practice a viable business and take the “stress” out of general practice for doctors, nurses and practice staff with responsive and effective practice support.

CESPHN should ensure better coordination of referral pathways; better communication with community health services (secondary), as well as private and public hospital (tertiary) health providers.

We want to be able to access directly the public outpatient clinics for our patients rather than going through the emergency department, especially for our most disadvantaged patients whose needs encompass not only financial but also psychosocial factors. How can our PHN help to facilitate social service support and housing resources for these vulnerable families and individuals?

GPs want to ensure that any evaluation about what the problems are translates into action; to better communication, services and practice support.

Dr Aline Smith