Introducing general practice enrolment in Australia: the devil is in the detail

Michael Wright and Roald Versteeg
Med J Aust 2021; 214 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51027
Published online: 17 May 2021

Enrolment may strengthen the link between patients and their preferred primary care providers and needs to support flexible provision of high quality care

In the 2019–20 federal budget, $448 million was allocated to introduce a system of voluntary general practice enrolment for Indigenous people over 50 years of age and all Australians over 70 years of age from July 2020.1 Enrolment, also known as nomination or empanelment, allows patients to register with a specified general practitioner at their preferred general practice. At the end of June 2020, the federal government announced that the introduction of voluntary general practice enrolment would be delayed and that models to support universal enrolment would be explored as part of the development of a 10‐year primary health care plan.2 The exploration of population‐wide enrolment was prompted by Australia’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) response, most notably the introduction of Medicare‐funded telehealth (both telephone and video consultations) — a long‐advocated reform currently available until 30 June 2021. In this article, we outline Australian and international experience with enrolment and suggest ways for Australia to introduce a system that benefits patients, health system funders and providers of comprehensive holistic general practice care.

  • 1 Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Melbourne, VIC

Competing interests:

Michael Wright chairs the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Expert Committee on Funding and Health System Reform, chairs the Board of the Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network, was a member of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group and has advisory roles with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Roald Versteeg is employed by the RACGP.

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