GP Network News, Issue 12, Number 11 - 23 March 2012

23 Mar 2012

AMA Surveys on Impact of Mental Health Cuts

The AMA has launched a short survey to determine the immediate impact of the Government’s 1 November 2011 cuts to Medicare rebates for GP mental health services. The survey is part of the AMA’s ongoing campaign in opposition to the cuts, which are unfair to patients and devalue the role of general practice in the delivery of high quality mental health care.

The AMA wants to know how the Government’s funding cuts have impacted on patients and this survey will inform the AMA’s continuing campaign.

The AMA has a number of resources on the AMA website to help inform patients about the changes to mental health funding to encourage patients to write directly to the Health Minister about the impact of the funding changes.

The survey closes Monday 2 April 2012Click here to complete the survey, it should only take 5 minutes. 

More Support Needed for International Medical Graduates (IMGs)

The AMA this week welcomed the release of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing’s ‘Lost in the Labyrinth’ report into registration processes and support for international medical graduates (IMGs).

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said that the AMA values the immense contribution that IMGs make to the Australian health system.

“The AMA supports many of the Committee’s recommendations and we stand ready to help the Government to implement them, particularly those that provide improved support, greater transparency, and streamlining of processes that do not undermine standards.”

Dr Hambleton also said the Committee has correctly identified that Australia is too reliant on the 10-year moratorium to force overseas doctors to work in rural and remote areas and raised questions about the need for this policy into the future. The AMA had called for the abolition of the 10-year moratorium in its submission to the Committee.

Click here for the press release.

AMA President on Medical Certificates

At a doorstop interview at Parliament House this week, Dr Steve Hambleton spoke about medical certificates in the wake of skepticism about the validity of MP, Craig Thomson’s, recent illness.

Dr Hambleton reminded everyone that medical certificates were legal documents and were not something issued lightly by doctors. Dr Hambleton also reiterated that a patient’s confidentiality is sacrosanct and a medical certificate only needs to certify that a patient is unwell. He went on to say that while some employers may want further information about an employee’s illness this would only be supplied with the permission of the patient. Click for a transcript of the interview.

Practice Nurse Incentive Program – Registration for Top Up and Grandfathering

Practices planning to register with the Practice Nurse Incentive Program for top-up or grandparenting payments have only until 30 June 2012 to do so. Accredited practices can apply for top-up payments and non-accredited practices can apply for grandparenting payments if financially disadvantaged by the removal of the “for and on behalf” of MBS items for immunisations, wound dressings and cervical smears performed by practice nurses and associated bulk billing items. Practices that apply for top-up payments after 1 January 2012 but before 30 June 2012 will have their payments backdated to 1 January 2012, or the earliest calculated eligibility date.

For more information on PNIP visit the Department of Human Services website.


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

Leading for Medical Care

Registration is now open and the AMA would like to invite all medical professionals to attend the 2012 National Conference.

The Conference will feature keynote addresses from leaders in medical care, workshops on topical issues affecting medical practice, and policy sessions on contemporary matters affecting the Australian health system.

The AMA is proud to announce international guest speaker, Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham PC KBE, who will provide a personal reflection of clinical leadership in health systems.

Dr Nick Coatsworth, President of Medécins Sans Frontières Australia, and Professor Tim Flannery, Chief Commissioner of the Climate Commission, will also be making presentations at the Conference.

Visit to register - or you can contact us by:

Phone on 02 6270 5474 or by email at

In this Issue

AMA Surveys on Impact of Mental Health Cuts

More Support Needed for International Medical Graduates

AMA President on Medical Certificates

Practice Nurse Incentive Program – Registration for Top Up and Grandfathering

Leading for Medical Care

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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