This report gives a unique overview of Australian general practice, while also addressing the impact of COVID-19 on general practice and patients.
- The physical health impact of the 2019–20 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic on the community is immediately apparent in the survey results from GPs. There was an increase in respiratory presentations, including cases of suspected COVID-19. This may also reflect increased presentations related to smoke inhalation as a result of the 2019–20 bushfires.
- More than four in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have at least one chronic health condition which poses a significant health problem. High rates of chronic health issues are a risk factor for COVID-19 mortality.20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also 16 times more likely to be living in an overcrowded house than non-Indigenous Australians making physical distancing measures difficult to implement.
- Continuity of care is vital to improving patient health outcomes and reducing hospitalisations. Medical experts and policymakers have long called for a voluntary patient-enrolment model to help coordinate access to multidisciplinary care. Such a model would support GPs and practice teams to better manage chronic disease and mental health issues.
- It is vitally important that general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) are adequately resourced to continue to provide timely, accessible and culturally appropriate mental health services.
- Areas of lower socioeconomic advantage see more patients with endocrine and metabolic issues as well as the effects of non-medical issues on health (such as domestic violence, housing, income and racism). GPs in the most advantaged areas are more likely to see psychological issues and women’s health presentations.