New report sheds light on vital role of Tasmania’s general practice workforce
Posted on December 2, 2020
Tasmanian GPs play a vital role in providing care to vulnerable, older, and chronically unwell Tasmanians, a new in-depth report by Primary Health Tasmania has confirmed.
The General Practice in Tasmania report – the first quantitative snapshot of its kind – offers unprecedented insight into the local general practice workforce and the quality care it provides to the Tasmanian population.
Primary Health Tasmania spokesperson Dr Faline Howes says the report enriches our understanding of the key role played by local general practices by providing up-to-date, statistical insights about the specifics of where, why, and how often Tasmanians see their GP.
A key takeaway from the report is the high rate and complexity of chronic illness encountered by the state’s GP workforce: more than half of patients have at least one chronic health condition, and roughly a third of that group are living with two or more conditions.
“This report tells us that the Tasmanian general practice workforce is regularly coming up against complex clinical challenges that involve multiple chronic illnesses – and they’re doing it with fewer full-time equivalent GPs when compared to mainland Australia,” Dr Howes says.
“When you consider that the Tasmanian population is, on average, older, sicker and poorer than its mainland counterparts, it becomes very clear that our general practice is acting as a major care cornerstone for the state.”
The General Practice in Tasmania report reveals the top five chronic condition types diagnosed, treated, and managed by local GPs were:
- chronic musculoskeletal problems
- mental health problems
- cardiovascular conditions.
The report also found the people most likely to seek out GP care multiple times throughout the year were more likely to have multiple health problems, be older, and experience a higher rate of socioeconomic disadvantage compared to those who didn’t see their GP as often.
“While this report highlights the crucial role of Tasmanian general practice in the state’s health system, it also shows us which community members are most likely to need that help,” Dr Howes says.
“This helps us understand what kinds of services are needed, and where, to make sure those people aren’t falling through the gaps.”
By drawing on reliable and securely handled data, Dr Howes says it’s hoped the report and the insights it offers can be used to improve health policy, programs, and services so they can better meet Tasmanians’ healthcare needs.
The data itself is drawn from an information-sharing network called the Primary Health Information Network, which includes roughly 75% of the state’s general practices.
The established prevalence and complexity of chronic conditions in the Tasmanian community reinforces the message of Primary Health Tasmania’s Keep your health on track campaign, encouraging people to continue to engage with their regular health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Primary Health Tasmania plans to update the report each year, further deepening the state’s understanding of its local general practice workforce and its workload.