GP Network News, Issue 12, Number 01 - 13 January 2012

13 Jan 2012

Privacy decision on health family history

The AMA welcomes the decision by the Privacy Commissioner to issue a fresh public interest determination covering the collection of family and social medical histories by medical practitioners and other health service providers. This determination ensures that doctors can continue to collect third party health information that is relevant to a patient’s family or social history without the family member having to give their consent. Without this determination, which covers the period 11 December 2011 to 10 December 2016, collecting the information could potentially be a breach of the Privacy Act (1988).

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, applied for the determination last year as the previous determination was due to expire on 10 December 2011. The Commissioner found that there would be substantial public interest in exempting health providers from the operation of relevant provisions in the Privacy Act, Dr Hambleton said. It is anticipated that future reforms to the Privacy Act, which have been flagged by the Government, will see legislative changes that will enshrine this exemption on a permanent basis. The full press release is here.

Submission to Senate Inquiry on Factors Affecting the Supply of Health Services and Medical Professionals in Rural Areas

The AMA has made an extensive submission to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry into the Factors Affecting the Supply of Health Services and Medical Professionals in Rural Areas, setting out viable strategies to improve access to health care for people living in rural and remote Australia.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said this week that a broad practical plan that incorporates clever thinking and local solutions is needed to attract doctors to rural practice and keep them in local communities for the long term. Click here for the full media release.

The AMA submission outlines a comprehensive set of strategies needed to underpin the development of a more sustainable medical workforce in rural areas that meets the needs of local communities.

In particular the AMA submission highlights:

  • generalism
  • remuneration and incentives
  • hospital infrastructure
  • compensation and family support
  • costs of establishing a practice and access to community
  • high on-call demands and the need for rosters and locum services
  • recruitment of international medical graduates (IMG) doctors.

The submission also raises concerns about the impact of the introduction of Medicare Locals and anomalies relating to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Area (ASGC-RA) Classification Scheme.

Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) Survey

The AMA is preparing an Essential Guide to using a shared electronic health record for medical practitioners ahead of introduction of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record from 1 July 2012. This document will be a resource for medical practitioners that will help them make decisions about whether, when and how to use the PCEHR in their practice. To ensure that the guide is as useful and relevant to practicing doctors as possible, the AMA is conducting a survey of members. An email from the President sent to members today includes the link to the survey. The survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete.

AMA Position Statement on Funding of Residential Aged Care 2011 released

The AMA recently released a position statement on Funding of Residential Aged Care 2011.

The funding of residential aged care now and into the future in a fair and sustainable way is a complex and emotive challenge for the nation, AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb said.  It is essential that older Australians are able to access affordable and appropriately resourced residential aged care services when they require them he said.  The full press release is here.

The AMA believes that the principles that should underpin any new aged care funding model are that it:

  • Provides universal access for every Australian to the basic standard of residential aged care services according to their needs, regardless of their ability to pay;
  • Spreads the costs for those who need longer than average residential aged care;
  • Permits individuals to choose their provider and to pay for additional or higher quality services if they choose; and
  • Provides certainty to residential aged care providers and is sustainable for future generations.

New online version of Forum—register now!

Medical practitioners can now receive all the latest Forum news from Medicare in the new online Health Professional News

Forum, Medicare’s quarterly news publication for medical practitioners, has been redesigned with improved functionality, extra features and conveniently segmented headings—General Practice, Specialist Areas and Allied Health so you can easily get the information that’s relevant to you.   

The new online site features a range of interactive and tailored news items, making it easier to find and share important Medicare updates relevant to you.

You need to register with Medicare for Forum online to receive every edition straight to your inbox.  Registration is quick, easy and free.  Feedback can be provided directly to Medicare via the link here.

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

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In this Issue

Privacy decision on health family history

Submission: Inquiry on Factors Affecting the Supply of Health Services and Medical Professionals in Rural Areas

Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record Survey

AMA Position Statement on Funding of Residential Aged Care

New online version of Forum—register now!

Powerbuy: 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