GP Network News, Issue 11, Number 20 - 27 May 2011

27 May 2011

Opposition growing to cuts to GP Mental Health Treatment Plans

Opposition to the Government’s decision to cut funding to GP Mental Health Treatment Plans is growing with the majority of comments posted on the President’s Blog expressing disappointment and frustration. The growing opposition is reinforcing the AMA position that this move is another example of the work of GPs being undervalued by Government.

As well as the President’s Blog (have your say here), the AMA’s campaign to have the decision rejected continues with a letter from AMA Vice President, Dr Steve Hambleton, to all MPs and Senators, an ABC Radio National interview with Dr Hambleton discussing the cuts to GP mental health treatment plans (among other things) and an online poll.

The letter reinforces that GPs are a vital component in the provision of mental health services and that nearly $600m of the new expenditure is provided by cuts to current mental health service provision over the next five years. The letter asks for support in ensuring that access to the mental health services provided by GPs for patients with moderate to severe mental illness is not reduced and urges an immediate reconsideration of the cuts to patient rebates. 

In the Radio National interview Dr Hambleton said ‘…..the Government chose to actually halve the rebate for patients trying to access their GPs, to get that access to psychologists…..we think that these talking therapies…..are very important to this group of patients …and of course this significantly devalues the role of GPs in this mental health area. There’s certainly a rise in discontent among general practitioners right around the country….’ On Medicare Locals Dr Hambleton said’…..the AMA is quite concerned about the way the Government has gone about setting it up, in that its actually really, again, disenfranchised the GPs on the frontline…..’ Other issues discussed during the interview include physician assistants, training, the PBS and PBAC. Read the full transcript and post a comment here.

The online poll asks whether the Government's Budget cuts devalue the role of GPs in mental health care with 89% of voters to date believing it does. Cast your vote here.

The AMA will continue its opposition to the cuts and undertake further activity to have the decision reversed.

UGPA calls for reinvestment in cut mental health items

The group United General Practice Australia held an urgent teleconference this week to discuss the recent cuts to mental health items. UGPA, consisting of the AMA, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) and the General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA), subsequently released a media release calling on the government to expand the Better Access program to meet the demand for mental healthcare in the community rather than reducing Medicare patient rebates for vital mental health services. Click here for more.

National Conference Awards

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce has presented the following awards at the AMA National Conference 2011 in Brisbane:

2011 Dirty Ashtray Award
The Tobacco Industry

Excellence in Health Care Award
Dr Mark Wenitong

Women in Medicine Award
Dr Barbara Bauert

Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Competition
Ms Lindy Moffatt and Ms Alison Dimer

In other awards:

The MJA/Pfizer Australia Award went to a research paper that compared the effectiveness of two antibiotic regimens for the treatment of acute middle ear infection in Aboriginal children. The paper was authored by a team of researchers from the Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Flinders University and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. The authors of the paper are: Peter S Morris, Gaudencio Gadil, Gabrielle B McCallum, Cate A Wilson, Heidi C Smith-Vaughan, Peter Torzillo and Amanda J Leach.

Top honours on the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) National Tobacco Scoreboard 2010/11 went to the Commonwealth Government and Western Australia.

AMA Roll of Fellows

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, announced six new inductees to the AMA Roll of Fellows at the AMA National Conference 2011 in Brisbane. The inductees are:

Dr Michael Graham Aizen, Dr Richard Fook Kiong Choong, Professor Robert Anthony James Conyers, Dr David Game AO, Dr Mason Stevenson and Dr Christopher Middleton. Click here for more.

RACGP Research Grants - Deadline extension

The deadline for the 2011 RACGP Foundation grant applications has been extended to Friday 3rd June. Grants of up to $30,000 are available as well as two new awards. Award details and application forms are available from the RACGP website or telephone (03) 8688 0496.


We welcome your comments and suggestions as well.  Please tell us what you think.


AMA members have the opportunity to rent for 3 days, pay for 2 on weekends with Hertz*.  

Call Hertz on 13 30 39 or visit and quote CDP# 283826 and promotional code 157301.

* Available at participating domestic Hertz locations, on selected vehicle groups until 30 June 2011, for rentals between 3 and 5 days in length. Free day is deducted from time and kilometre charges. Hertz standard terms, conditions and rental qualifications apply. Offer subject to location operating hours.

In this Issue

Opposition growing to cuts to GP Mental Health Treatment Plans

UGPA calls for reinvestment in cut mental health items

National Conference Awards

AMA Roll of Fellows

RACGP Research Grants - Deadline extension

Hertz - Rent for 3 pay for 2!

Email the AMA

Post new comment to the website


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