GP Network News, Issue 12, Number 04 - 3 February 2012

3 Feb 2012

An important message from the AMA President on PIP Breast Implants

I am writing in relation to the ongoing concern regarding PIP breast implants, a matter in which I have been paying particular attention.

My advice is that there is currently no evidence that these PIP implants should be treated differently to other brands of implants.


  • There is no evidence that these PIP implants are linked to cancer, including the rare Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, and testing of the gel inside the implants in Britain and France has confirmed this.
  • There is no evidence that the PIP implant has a higher rate of breaking or leaking than any other brand of silicone implants. Currently the US Food and Drug Administration shows that about 10% of all types of implants rupture within 10 years of being implanted.
  • TGA tests to date have shown that the tensile strength of the shell of the implants has met international standards and that the gel contained in the implants is not cytotoxic.

The TGA has an ongoing testing program and is linking with other international agencies in so doing. I will be advised if there is any change in information or evidence that needs bringing to your attention.

There is no evidence of a need for routine removal of asymptomatic intact implants.

Dr Steve Hambleton
Federal President

Government’s partial restore of mental health services disappointing

This week the Federal Government announced that it would partially restore mental health funding that was cut in the May 2011 Federal Budget putting in place transitional arrangements that allow GPs to refer patients for an additional 6 allied mental health sessions in exceptional circumstances, on top of the 10 currently available.

The AMA welcomed the Government’s acknowledgement that the May Budget cuts to mental health services were hurting patients but highlighted that its decision not to reverse cuts to Medicare funding for GP mental health services is disappointing. AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said the Government had failed to address the fact that the Budget cuts to Medicare rebates for general practice mental health services were having a detrimental impact on patients.

Medicare data shows that since the Government cut Medicare rebates for GP Mental health services, the number of GP mental health care plans has dropped by over six per cent compared to the same period in the year before.

The AMA again called on the Government to fully restore Better Access funding to reverse the decline in GP mental health services. The full press release is here.

The Department of Health and Ageing has placed information about the new arrangements for allied mental health services on its website. The arrangements allowing the additional visits will only be available from 1 March until 31 December 2012.

Non VR GPs

This week the Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice, Dr Brian Morton, met with senior Department of Health and Ageing officials to talk about Medicare rebates for patients of non VR GPs. The AMA continues to push for improved rebates and appropriate indexation, however the Department was reluctant to make any commitment to address the issue in light of the current fiscal environment.

AMA congratulates doctors on Australia Day 2012 Honours List

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton congratulated and paid tribute to the many doctors and other health professionals who were honoured on Australia Day for their passion and dedication to their patients and their communities. Doctors from many diverse backgrounds have been recognized and honoured again this year he said.

We are, of course, especially proud of AMA members who have been honoured, said Dr Hambleton.

Dr Rod Pearce, an Adelaide GP, was appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia. Dr Pearce, a former President of the AMA in South Australia and a former AMA Federal Councillor, served also for many years as Chair of the AMACGP.

Former AMA Federal Councillor and also former President of NSW AMA, A/Professor Peter Thursby was awarded the Medal (OAM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

The press release which includes a full list of AMA members who featured in the Honours List is here.

Submission - Regionally Tailored PHC Initiatives through Medicare Locals Fund

The AMA lodged a submission with the Department of Health and Ageing earlier this week in response to the Regionally Tailored Primary Health Care Initiatives through Medicare Locals Fund discussion paper.

The submission comments on the role of Medicare Locals, the creation of the Medicare Locals National Body and the utilisation of funds set aside for Medicare Locals.  The AMA highlights the need for Medicare Locals to support GPs in caring for patients, for clarity and transparency in how funds are allocated, and stresses that any savings from the consolidation of funding arrangements must be directed towards supporting services for patients. 

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

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In this Issue

An important message from the AMA President on PIP Breast Implants

Government’s partial restore of mental health services disappointing

Non VR GPs

AMA congratulates doctors on Australia Day 2012 Honours List

Submission - Regionally Tailored PHC Initiatives through Medicare Locals Fund

Pick up a free day on Hertz*

Email the AMA

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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