Orthopaedic surgeons are being called on by the National Chairman of the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons Dr Gary Speck, to sign an open letter to Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon raising concerns about the future of primary healthcare.

The letter written by Dr Kerri Parnell, Editor-in-Chief of Australian Doctor, is gathering support across the Australian medical profession. Australian Doctor is gathering signatures for the letter.

“General practitioners are the cornerstone of Australian medicine and any attempt to diminish their role would be detrimental to Australian healthcare,” Dr Speck said in Melbourne today.

“There are some very fuzzy concepts being promoted around the future of primary healthcare in Australia including terms like “collaborative care”.”

“Any expansion of the referral system runs the risk of creating confusion where absolute clarity is required.”

Dr Speck said he agreed with Dr Parnell’s observation, “The community will want clear safeguards that ensure patients can access the expert clinical care they need, and that this policy will not put them at greater risk of misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medication error, adverse drug interaction, and the resulting damage and suffering these problems can inflict.”

Dr Parnell’s comments follow a recent statement by the editor of the Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Martin Van Der Weyden, published in the MJA 17 August 2009, which stated, “A quiet revolution has been taking place, driven by both ideology and pragmatism. Its aim is to dismantle general practice and eviscerate the ranks of its medical practitioners. The signals are loud and clear.”

“I will be encouraging as many of my colleagues as possible to support this open letter and our GP colleagues”, Dr Speck said.