GP Network News, Issue 11, Number 34 - 2 September 2011

2 Sep 2011

President meets with GPs to discuss Medicare Locals

During his July National Press Club speech AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, announced he would visit the districts of all current 19 Medicare Locals to talk to local doctors about their implementation and to discuss AMA concerns with the Government's current model, particularly the lack of GP involvement in the governance and management structures.

South Australia was the first port of call this week, with visits to GPs in the Rural North SA and the Central Adelaide and Hills Medicare Local districts.

The overwhelming feedback from GPs who attended these meetings was that there is very little information about the actual role of Medicare Locals and the types of services they would provide. Other concerns raised included:

  • Lack of local GP involvement on the boards of Medicare Locals,
  • A lack of consultation with GPs about the development and implementation of Medicare Locals,
  • Uncertainty at the impact of the new after hours funding arrangements that will be rolled out through Medicare Locals,
  • The loss of Practice Incentive Payments for the provision of after hours services, and
  • The potential for additional red tape and bureaucracy and for funds to be diverted from patient care.

Practices in rural areas were also very concerned at the size of Medicare Local boundaries and the potential for decisions to be made that ignored local needs and knowledge.

The AMA is planning a series of similar visits to GPs in other states over coming months. The AMA will also provide support and advice for GPs at the local level to ensure that their voices are heard and they are well represented in discussions with Medicare Locals.

AMA President to attend Senate Inquiry

On Monday next week Dr Steve Hambleton will attend the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry into the Commonwealth’s Funding and Administration of Mental Health Services. Dr Hambleton will give evidence at the Inquiry about the impact on patients of the Government’s cuts to patient rebates for GP mental health services under the Better Access Program. He will also discuss how these cuts defy the evidence about the benefits of this program and will be calling for the MBS rebates to be restored.

Dr Hambleton will be appearing before the Inquiry at 4.50pm, 5 September 2011. To watch the live broadcast visit or click here.

There is still an opportunity to support the AMA’s campaign by signing the Online Petition. Have your say and add your signature to the close to 3000 already collected. Click here to sign the petition.

MRI Working Group

AMA Council of General Practice (AMACGP) Chair, Dr Brian Morton, and AMACGP member, Dr Tony Bartone, attended the MRI Working Group meeting this week representing the AMA. The meeting was positive and it is anticipated that a list of clinical indicators will be finalised in the near future that will support the introduction on 1 November 2012 of an MBS rebate for GP referred MRIs for children under 16.

Pharmacy Medical Certificates

There has been significant media interest in recent months over the rights of pharmacists to issue medical certificates. The AMA has received robust legal advice confirming that, under current Federal workplace relations laws, pharmacists are not permitted to provide employees with a medical certificate to substantiate a claim for sick leave.

In 2009 the Fair Work Act (FWA) replaced the Workplace Relations Act (WRA), which previously included specific legislative provisions that gave pharmacists, as ‘registered health practitioners’, the right to issue medical certificates for the purposes of the WRA.

The FWA did not retain these provisions and, as such, that right no longer exists. In limited circumstances, a note from a pharmacist may be regarded as reasonable proof of a legitimate absence from work due to illness, although there is no current legal precedent that gives any guidance as to what these circumstances might be.

The AMA believes that patients should see their GP if they are unwell. GPs are the most highly trained general health practitioner and are best positioned to both diagnose illness as well as determine appropriate treatment.

Assist at Gallipoli for Anzac Day 2012

Conservation Volunteers Australia is seeking volunteers with medical expertise to assist with Visitor Services at Anzac Day commemorations in Gallipoli in 2012.

Conservation Volunteers under the supervision of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs manages the Visitors Services team at the commemoration services, particularly the care of people with special needs. Volunteers with medical knowledge and expertise can offer valuable skills needed within the team.

Beyond assisting with duties within the Visitors Services team on Anzac Day, the 11 day trip includes exploration of the Gallipoli Peninsula, Istanbul and an Aegean cruise. All inclusive, the cost of the trip is $5200. For more information or to apply for this opportunity visit Conservation Volunteers.


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In this Issue

President meets with GPs to discuss Medicare Locals

AMA President to attend Senate Inquiry

MRI Working Group

Pharmacy Medical Certificates

Assist at Gallipoli for Anzac Day 2012

Great Savings on Popular I.T. Brands!

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AMA is the peak medical organisation in Australia representing the profession’s interests to Government and the wider community. Your Federal AMA General Practice Policy team can be contacted via email or by phone (02) 6270 5400. You can unsubscribe from GPNN by emailing