2024 Federal Budget should fund GP-led living guidelines to make Australia healthier

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With health research and evidence changing rapidly, Australia’s largest peak GP body is calling for funding to turn existing GP clinical guidelines into ‘living guidelines’ in its pre-Budget submission 2024-25. [Source: Shutterstock]

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) is calling on the Federal Government to invest in ‘living’ guidelines for preventive care so patient care can be informed by the latest evidence and improve health outcomes.

Clinical guidelines provide evidence-backed recommendations for medical professionals and patients to inform health decisions, weighing benefits, potential harms, and the certainty of evidence.

While most guidelines are updated at specific intervals such as every three years, living guidelines incorporate relevant new evidence as it becomes available to allow clinicians to stay up to date with the latest research, but require continual surveillance and review.

A nationwide newsGP poll identified GPs find it most challenging to stay across rapidly changing evidence on:

  • COVID-19 – 24%
  • Smoking/vaping cessation – 20%
  • PSA testing – 14%
  • Preventive health – 14%
  • MS-2 Step – 6%

RACGP President Doctor Nicole Higgins said living guidelines would make a significant difference for GPs and their patients.

“Funding for GP led living guidelines will mean Australians can get the latest evidence-based care – this will make Australia healthier and reduce costs to the health system.

“We are calling for funding for preventive care guidelines which would have a significant impact on health outcomes. The leading causes of death and disability in Australia are preventable or can be delayed with early intervention through general practice.”

Currently, just 2% of our total health spending goes to prevention but the National Preventive Health Strategy calls for it to increase to 5% by 2030.

The Productivity Commission estimated that improving the health of people in poor or fair health would result in an extra $4 billion GDP growth annually in 2017 – it’s likely a lot more now, given the increasing burden of chronic disease in Australia.

RACGP wants to the Federal Government invest in their guidelines in the next Budget to prove patients with improved, evidence-based care while reducing pressure on our hospitals.

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