National Cabinet has endorsed the Commonwealth’s substantial package of Strengthening Medicare measures that will deliver the highest priority investments in primary care. These measures are in line with the recommendations of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce and will build the foundations of reform to primary care in Australia.
The interconnected nature of the health system means that investments to improve access to primary care will flow reduce demand on our hospital system, by preventing the need for tertiary care and diverting people to the most appropriate setting for care.
- supports health practitioners to work to their full scope of practice.
Pharmacists will be funded to deliver vaccines to eligible patients under the National Immunisation Program. The Opioid Dependence Treatment Program will be reformed to enable broader and more affordable access to medicines in community pharmacies. States and Territories will trial a paramedic practitioner role, freeing up emergency departments to focus on higher risk patients. Governments will undertake a scope of practice review that examines barriers and incentives for all professionals to work to their full scope of practice to ensure that our health workforce is able to meet community needs.
- expands the nursing workforce to improve access to primary care.
The Commonwealth will support up to 6000 clinical placements for nursing students in primary care, and incentivise primary care practices to support 500 previously registered enrolled nurses and registered nurses re-entering the primary care nursing workforce.
- improves access to and delivery of after hours primary care.
The Commonwealth is providing additional funding to after hours services, progressively addressing gaps in regional areas and improving collaboration across primary care providers. New programs will increase access to services for culturally and linguistically diverse Australians and people experiencing homelessness, and encourage access to virtual after hours services through Healthdirect. This will benefit patients by supporting more timely and cost effective access to care, as well as primary care providers and hospitals, by improving pathways to primary care and reducing demand on emergency departments
- introduces MyMedicare to support patients registered with their regular general practice and care team through new blended payment models.
MyMedicare is a voluntary patient registration scheme that will improve continuity of care and provide funding packages for new models of patient-centred care. As part of MyMedicare, the Commonwealth will also introduce new funding packages for wrap around care in the community for people with chronic disease who are frequent hospital users, and a new General Practice in Aged Care Incentive to improve access to general practitioners in residential aged care homes.
- provides flexible funding for multidisciplinary team-based models to improve quality of care.
The Commonwealth will increase funding for multidisciplinary team based care in General Practices through increases to the Workforce Incentives Program – Practice Stream and through Primary Health Networks to commission multi-disciplinary care teams. Well executed team-based, multidisciplinary care offers a higher quality of care, resulting in better health outcomes for Australians.
- invests in digital health to improve health outcomes.
The Commonwealth is supporting the operation of the Australian Digital Health Agency, which plays a significant role in managing Australia’s digital health and provides additional investment in My Health Record to drive a digitally connected healthcare system for all Australians.
National Cabinet noted that additional measures will be announced soon in the 2023‑24 Budget. Strengthening Medicare is an ongoing focus of the Commonwealth to ensure we improve access and quality of care for all Australians.