GP Network News, Issue 11, Number 35 - 9 September 2011

9 Sep 2011

Senate Inquiry into Mental Health funding

The AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, appeared before the Senate Community Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the Commonwealth’s Funding and Administration of Mental Health Services on Monday 5 September 2011.

The President gave evidence about the impact on patients of the Government’s cuts to patient rebates for GP mental health services under the Better Access Program, highlighting that the Government’s own independent evaluation of the Better Access Program found that it was cost effective. The evaluation also stated that it is a crucial piece in the web of Australian primary mental health care reforms, and is helping to meet previously unmet need.

The Senate asked the AMA to make a further submission regarding the changes, which will be lodged early next week. The Committee has received over 1000 submissions and is due to deliver its report to Parliament by 20 September 2011.

There is still an opportunity to support the AMA’s campaign to have the Government reverse its decision to cut funding to the Better Access program by signing the Online Petition. Have your say and add your signature to the over 3000 already collected. Click here to sign the petition.

Review of rural classification system

In late 2010 the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) engaged the National Centre for Social Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GISCA) in the University of Adelaide, to investigate the concerns raised by the AMA about the implementation of the ASGC-RA system and to provide advice on how these issues might be addressed.

The AMA recently wrote to the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP, urging the Government to release the GISCA Report, which was completed some time ago.

In response, the GISCA Report has now been released. The report concludes that the system is working well, however, the report found there were some “areas of uncertainty” for towns near classification boundaries and it recommends setting up a tribunal that will assess submissions for changing RA/HRC scores. Click here for full GISCA Report.

The AMA Rural Medical Committee will examine the report closely, which will inform further AMA advocacy on the impact of the ASGC-RA system on rural communities.

GP Red Tape Survey

Thank you to the GPs who completed the AMA Survey "What Gives You A Red Tape Headache?". Nearly 500 surveys were completed and are now being analysed. While the details of the survey results are not yet available, it is clear that red tape certainly does give GPs a headache with 98% stating that red tape is a major concern for them.

When the results are analysed in detail the AMA will develop a plan for tackling the areas of most concern to GPs. Thank you again for contributing your views and experience to this survey.

Launch of DoHA GP Survey

The AMA is supporting the Department of Health and Ageing to understand the use of e-health and information technology in the provision of healthcare by surveying its membership. Survey results will inform decisions to improve the quality and sustainability of healthcare in Australia. Information will be collected through a 20 minute national survey conducted online or via telephone for which participating general practitioners will be offered $80 in appreciation of their time. The AMA encourages you to use this opportunity to have your voice heard. Please follow this link,, to register your interest to participate.

AMA Position Statement on Prevocational Medical Education and Training 2011

Released earlier this week the AMA Position Statement on Prevocational Medical Education and Training 2011 calls for an overarching medical workforce plan that ensures there is an appropriate number of adequately funded undergraduate, prevocational and vocational training places.

It is simply not enough to graduate more medical students without providing students and junior doctors with the jobs and training they need to meet the needs of the community, AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said.

The Position Statement also discusses curricula, internship, feedback and competency-based training and assessment. The Position Statement is available here.

GP Registrars – Be part of the 2011 AMA safe hours audit

The AMA Safe Hours Audit closes on 14 September 2011 and GP registrars still have time to participate. Over 1300 doctors have already completed the audit.

There will be a special section in the final report specifically focused on the fatigue risks for GP registrars. Past safe hours audits have focused on public hospitals and very little has been done to see what the risks of fatigue are for GP registrars. The audit results will provide vital information that will assist the AMA to develop further resources and information to assist doctors working in general practice.

It takes around 10 minutes to complete the audit and participants will need to be prepared with details of their actual working, non-working and sleeping hours for the week of 8-14 August 2011. You will also need to have on hand the hours worked in the previous week as well as the roster for the week following the audit period.

To take part in the audit, visit Any information provided will be reported in an aggregated fashion and information about individuals will not be published.


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

Australian families are underinsured

Research has shown that 95% of Australian households are dangerously underinsured and one in five Australian families will lose at least half of their income at some point in their lives. Sadly too many Australians don’t stop to consider the impact on their families.

OnePath Life has developed a new life insurance product for members with a Life Benefit of up to $2.5 million called Professionals Life Cover Plus. It is designed for professionals who are looking for higher cover options that other insurance products may not provide. With no medicals or blood tests required, immediate cover upon acceptance and an optional Major Illness and Injury Benefit, Professionals Life Cover Plus can help your family with loan repayments, household bills and other everyday expenses in the event of major illness or injury or death.

For more information visit or call 1800 658 679.

Source: The University of Canberra Lifewise/Natsem report 2010.

In this Issue

Senate Inquiry into Mental Health funding

Review of rural classification system

GP Red Tape Survey

Launch of DoHA GP Survey

AMA Position Statement on Prevocational Medical Education and Training 2011

GP Registrars – Be part of the 2011 AMA safe hours audit

OnePath - Australian families are underinsured

Email the AMA

Post new comment to the website



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