Call for ‘poverty screening test’ to be part of GP consults

Speaking ahead of the NSW Ministry of Health summit in Sydney today, Catholic Health Australia CEO Martin Laverty said GPs should adopt a Canadian approach whereby a “poverty screening test” was incorporated into standard consultations.

“The Canadian Medical Association in a July report said tackling poverty was its first priority for healthcare… Australia should follow suit and address poverty as a health determinant,” Mr Laverty said.

“As patients, we are asked questions about family history, diet and risk-taking behaviours when we visit the doctor. By assessing for poverty alongside these other risk factors, doctors will better determine if a person has a chronic disease and treat it accordingly.

“Including a poverty screen in medical consultations would likely see health funders give new attention to addressing social factors outside the health system that are driving costs within the health system.