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Health: Physiotherapy

Physios cry foul over 'GP-centric' chronic disease reforms

Physiotherapists have criticised the federal government's proposed chronic disease reforms for being 'GP-centric' and failing to respect patient choice.

The Turnbull government plans to trial "health care homes" in 200 general practices next year enrolling up to 65,000 patients who have chronic conditions.

Patients eligible for care plans will have to register with practices, and payments for Health Care Homes will be bundled together into regular quarterly payments as opposed to a fee-for-service model.

But Australian Physiotherapy Association president Marcus Dripps says the reforms fail to acknowledge the role of physiotherapy in managing chronic conditions like osteoarthritis.

"Obviously GPs have a central role in primary care but they are not all of primary care. Many patients choose to access other professional services like physiotherapy [to manage osteoarthritis]."

Mr Dripps says patients will not be able to control how the funds from the new model could be used.

"These patients should have the choice to base their 'health care home' with a physiotherapist," he says.

"Physiotherapy is not a luxury item. We know physiotherapy prevents and manages chronic diseases, so these reforms should enable access for all," Mr Dripps says.

However peak doctors' bodies have welcomed the reforms.

RACGP president Dr Frank Jones says the model will retain a fee-for-service model but "include top-up funding paid quarterly to support coordination and integration of care."

AMA president Dr Brian Owler says the plan appears sound but there are still unanswered questions on how it impacts existing chronic disease funding.

Contributed by Rachel Worsley: Medical Observer - medical news, opinion and analysis

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