GP Network News, Issue 11, Number 39 - 7 October 2011

7 Oct 2011

Pharmacy Guild abandons companion deal

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, yesterday welcomed the decision by the Pharmacy Guild and Blackmores to scrap the controversial deal to promote complementary medicines with prescription medications.

In a message to AMA members yesterday Dr Hambleton said there is no place in medicine for a co-compromised approach to care. He hailed the decision as a win for patients, a win for the independence of clinical pharmacies and a win for the doctor-clinical pharmacist relationship.

President meets Victorian GPs to discuss Medicare Locals

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, visited Victoria this week to talk to local doctors about the establishment of Medicare Locals and hear their views. Meeting with doctors at the AMA Victorian Northern Subdivision Forum Dr Hambleton spoke about the AMA’s concerns regarding Medicare Locals and their operation. Feedback from local GPs was consistent with previous meetings in other states on this topic, with GPs consistently highlighting that there was an information vacuum about the role and structure of Medicare Locals.

AMA information kit for patients about the effect of cuts to rebates for GP mental health services

An Online Kit to assist GPs inform their patients about the rebate cuts to GP mental health items under the Better Access Program and the cost implications for them of those cuts is now available from the AMA website.

The kit comprises the following:

  • a template letter to help explain the changes to patients and why they may now face out of pocket expenses for GP mental health services;
  • a information sheet for patients outlining the services affected and the extent Medicare entitlements have been reduced; and
  • a fact sheet for practices to give to patients to inform them about the Government's 2011/12 Budget cuts to mental health services.

This kit will also support patients unhappy with the Government's cuts to write to the Minister for Health and Ageing.

The kit takes into account the latest advice on the MBS fees for GP mental health items from 1 November 2011.

The AMA is also finalising its on-line petition to send to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health and Ageing. Over 4390 people have signed the petition and the AMA appreciates the support of all these people who have taken the time to show their support for our campaign against the Government’s cuts to Medicare funding for GP mental health services.

Practice Nurse Incentive Program (PNIP)

The Department of Health and Ageing has confirmed that applications for the PNIP are now being accepted. Application forms are available from Medicare or via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Practices wishing to apply for grandparenting, top-up or accreditation assistance will need to fill out the application form and provide the requested documentation to Medicare. Practices already participating in the Practice Incentive Program (PIP) Practice Nurse Incentive are also required to apply for the PNIP. Medicare will advise practices in writing of receipt of their application form. All applications received will be assessed for eligibility from 1 January 2012.

For more information about the PNIP email or call 1800 222 032 (call charges may apply) between 8.30am and 5.00pm. Monday to Friday, Australian Standard Central Time (ASCT).

New DVA Fee Schedules

Every October the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Medical and Allied Health Fee Schedules are reviewed and updated in line with the Department of Health and Ageing Fee Schedules.

DVA has provided the following steps to download electronic copies:

  • Go to
    Follow the link on the DVA homepage - Medical and Allied Provider Fee Schedules.
    Click on the GPs, LMOs and Specialists link
    Select the relevant Fee schedule
    Download and store on your computer

For those who are using Online Claiming the fees may be integrated into your practice management software automatically. Please contact your software vendor for more details.

Updates will be provided on the DVA website or follow DVA on Twitter -

Those providers or practice managers who require a hard copy Fee Schedule may order them via the normal ordering process either online or by fax or phone. Please note that delivery will be after 1 November.

Taxing Unhealthy Food - AMA Poll

The AMA is running a poll asking should Australia increase taxes on unhealthy foods to help improve food choices. Click here to participate.


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

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In this Issue

Pharmacy Guild abandons companion deal

President meets Victorian GPs to discuss Medicare Locals

Information kit for patients about cuts to rebates for GP mental health services

Practice Nurse Incentive Program (PNIP)

New DVA Fee Schedules

Taxing Unhealthy Food - AMA Poll

PowerBuy - Best possible I.T. deals on popular 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