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General Practitioners’ Roles in Chronic Disease Management

General practitioners are generally the initial point of contact for people with chronic illnesses and play a key role in prevention, diagnosis and management of chronic disease in the community. Nearly 90% of Australia’s population attend general practitioners at least once a year and 77% of Australians report having one or more long-term health problems, with more than half of those aged 65 years and older having five or more conditions.*
 

General practitioners assess, manage and provide ongoing care of the full range of chronic diseases in the community. They are also involved in the early intervention and prevention of chronic disease and the optimisation of general good health.
General practitioners:

  • Identify early warning signs for chronic disease
  • Provide appropriate care for patients with chronic disease
  • Refer patients to the appropriate health professional for further care
  • Provide the continuity of care required by patients with chronic disease.

General practice is well suited to managing chronic disease as many patients with chronic disease have co-morbidities which are more effectively managed by primary care practitioners instead of specialist providers. General practitioners can also provide the continuity of care required by patients with chronic disease.*

General Practitioner Qualifications

Vocational training is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing through General Practice Education and Training (GPET), a Commonwealth-owned body responsible for the administration of GP training across Australia.

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM - www.acrrm.org.au) also provides GP training.  

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is recognised by the Australian Medical Council, the profession and the community as the body responsible for maintaining the standards of training for general practice in Australia.
The core-training program is three years in duration and typically includes:

  • 12 months training in hospital posts
  • 18 months training in general practice posts
  • 6 months training in an extended skills post (which may be undertaken in a general practice)
  • Optional 12 months in a rural post
  • Towards the end of the training, participants become eligible to sit for the RACGP Fellowship examinations.

* ‘Care of Patients with Chronic disease: the Challenge for General Practice’, Mark F Harris and Nicholas Zwar  2007