GP Network News, Issue 12, Number 08 - 2 March 2012

2 Mar 2012

‘Continued dispensing’ not in best interests of patients

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the passage of the National Health Amendment (Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement Initiatives) Bill through Parliament yesterday has the potential to seriously compromise patient care.

The Bill allows a practice known as ‘continued dispensing’, whereby pharmacists are allowed to dispense prescription medication without a valid prescription and without consulting a patient’s medical practitioner.

The Bill allows for continued dispensing of the contraceptive pill and cholesterol-lowering medications (statins).

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA strongly opposes continued dispensing because of the risks it creates for patient safety.

“A pharmacist has no way of knowing whether the patient’s medical practitioner intended to continue the medication, to adjust it, or to cease that treatment altogether,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Dispensing prescription medication without a prescription also presents a fundamental conflict of interest – the pharmacist is both the prescriber and the dispenser."

Dr Hambleton said the Bill is fixing a problem that does not exist. GPs currently have arrangements in place to see patients who urgently need a consultation to renew prescriptions or get new prescriptions.

Click here to see the media release in full.

General Practice Must Be Funded to Help Implement the PCEHR

At a meeting in Canberra this week, United General Practice Australia (UGPA) leaders expressed universal concern about the lack of preparation for the practical implementation at the practice level for the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR), which is due to be introduced on 1 July this year. UGPA agreed that individual general practices and individual GPs must be properly funded and supported by the Government to assist in the smooth implementation of the PCEHR.

UGPA also raised concerns about two reviews currently being conducted into non-medical prescribing. Both Health Workforce Australia and the National Prescribing Service are looking into issues around prescribing by non-medical health professionals including nurse practitioners, podiatrists, physiotherapists, and optometrists. UGPA recommended that an overarching existing national agency should be commissioned to manage and oversee all activities and reviews concerning non-medical prescribing.

Full media release is here.

Assessing Fitness to Drive – Information Kit

The National Transport Commission and Austroads have released the revised national medical standards for driver licensing Assessing Fitness to Drive 2012. The revised standards aim to ensure that all health professionals are aware of the road safety implications of medical conditions, and that they understand the licensing authority systems for managing medically at-risk drivers. All health professionals are encouraged to refer to the standards when considering their patient’s fitness to drive. This will help to ensure that patients are assessed and managed consistently, and will support road safety.

Links to various supporting information can also be found on the Austroads website, including a fact sheet to assist communication with patients regarding their fitness to drive and their responsibilities to report to the driver licensing authority.

Online training for health professionals is also available via the SafeDrive Medical course.

AMA Online Poll - PCEHR

The AMACGP recently reaffirmed the need for the AMA to push for appropriate remuneration for GPs to recognise the additional workload involved in preparing a health summary for PCEHR. In line with this the AMA is currently running a poll asking should the AMA develop its own schedule of fees to support the PCEHR? Click here to cast your vote.

AMA 2012 National Conference

The AMA National Conference is the premier event of the year and 2012 promises to be the best yet, in celebration of 50 years of the AMA.

For the first time the National Conference is open to all doctors, not just AMA members or invited delegates.

The two and a half day program features keynote addresses from leaders in medical care, workshops on topical issues affecting medical practice, and policy sessions on contemporary issues affecting the Australian health system.

One of the highlights will be the keynote presentation by an international guest, Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham PC KBE. Lord Darzi was the former Health Minister in the United Kingdom and the Chair of Surgery at St Mary's Hospital in London. He will provide a personal reflection on Clinical Leadership in Health Systems.

We hope you can join us in Melbourne, from the 25-27 of May 2012 for the AMA National Conference.

For more information on the National Conference please visit the AMA Federal website or contact Theresa Schultz on 02 6270 5474 or email at


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

In this Issue

‘Continued dispensing’ not in best interests of patients

General Practice Must Be Funded to Help Implement the PCEHR

Assessing Fitness to Drive – Information Kit

AMA Online Poll - PCEHR

AMA 2012 National Conference

American Express: Great value for AMA members

Email the AMA

Post a new comment 

We’ve zeroed in on great value for AMA members.

With $0 annual Card fee, $0 Supplementary Card1 fee and a choice of two great Rewards programs, the benefits of the AMA Gold Credit Card really add up – up to $330^ in value for our members. Find out more

Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited. Credit provided by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 1088 952 085). Australian Credit Licence No. 291313. ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.

^ Indicative value only. The $330 value is comprised of: a $200 David Jones Gift Card if you apply, are approved and spend $500 on your Card within two months of your card being approved, a $30 David Jones Gift Card on an approved Supplementary Card before within two months of your card being approved, no annual Rewards program fee saving you $80 p.a and no annual Supplementary Card fees saving you $20 p.a.

1. Supplementary Cardmembers must be over 18 years of age. Primary Cardholders will be liable for all charges on Supplementary Cards.

American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). Australian Credit Licence No. 291313. ® Registered Trademark of American Express Company.


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