25th March 1999

Any attempt by the Federal Government to pay General Practitioners to ration health care treatment will be opposed by the Australian Doctors’ Fund said Dr Bruce Shepherd, Chairman, Australian Doctors’ Fund.

Dr Shepherd was responding to a secret Government document entitled “Draft General Practice Quality and Productivity Agreement” which is a blue print for rationing health care and introducing US Style managed care incentives to withhold treatment.

The Federal Government is said to have given GP’s two weeks to accept the Agreement.

Dr Shepherd said “This document lays the foundations for US Style Managed Care for General Practice.  I can think of nothing worse than rewarding doctors to withhold treatment.  It goes against everything that the medical profession stands for.”

The secret document outlines plans to pay General Practitioners from savings made from reducing health care treatments including “a Quality Incentives for Prescribing Program focussed on certain pharmacological groups, with 50 per cent of savings achieved to accrue to General Practice”

“It is the duty of every doctor to care, not withhold care.  We are answerable to our patients for how we treat them not Governments or third party funders.”

“The word ‘quality’ is now being used as code for how we can cut down on treatment to save costs.  That is, how to ration treatment to patients” said Dr Shepherd

“Despite all we have seen from the US, the Government continues to push the managed care barrow with no thought for how it will affect patients.”

“We have the best GP’s in the world and the Medicare rebate has failed to reflect the true value of the service.  Bulk-billing, much loved by all political parties, has added to the growth in GP visits.  GP’s have responded by having to resort to higher patient throughput to stay viable.  They have also concentrated services near big population areas for the same reason.”

“The Australian Doctors’ Fund will use any resource it can to oppose any attempt to ration care to patients” said Dr Shepherd.