GP Network News, Issue 12 Number 44

9 Nov 2012
Progress on Intern Places but more to do
AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, has congratulated the Federal Health Minister for her leadership in seeking to address the projected shortfall of 180 intern places for 2013, with news that the Commonwealth has reached agreement with Queensland, Western Australia, the ACT and Northern Territory to fund an additional 116 intern places in 2013 across the public and private sectors.

Dr Hambleton also acknowledged these states and territories for recognising the need to keep these medical graduates in Australia as part of a strategy to address medical workforce shortages and reduce our long-term reliance on international medical graduates.

Dr Hambleton said it is important now for all remaining governments to act with goodwill and be part of an agreement to find the other places that are required to cover the projected shortfall.

He also said it is important to recognise that the bigger medical workforce issue is much broader and is not just about intern training. We are nowalso seeing general shortages of pre-vocational training positions emergingand Health Workforce Australia has predicted a shortage of 450 first year specialist training places in 2016.

The AMA has stressed that Health Ministers still have more work to do.

It is essential that a long-term and sustainable plan is developed toensure that the record numbers of students graduating from medical schools across the country can go through to complete specialist training and deliver the medical services that the community needs now and into the future, Dr Hambleton said.

AMA President urges schoolies to play it safe

Dr Hambleton will tomorrow open the Cringe the Binge National Weekend of Action in Byron Bay. Cringe the Binge is a community-wide Byron Bay movement that is promoting the message that people can have a good time without alcohol and binge drinking.

Dr Hambleton said school leavers could enjoy their much-deserved fun and relaxation during Schoolies Week 2012 without resorting to binge drinking, which can often lead to other unhealthy or unsafe behaviour.

“It is important that young people celebrate in a way that doesn’t see them ending up in emergency departments or in other unwanted situations that could change the course of their young lives or the lives of others,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Young people should play it safe in Schoolies Week,” Dr Hambleton said.

Click here for more.

AMA advises on Government’s Review of Rural Health Workforce Programs

Chair of the AMA Rural Medical Committee, Dr David Rivett, met with Minister Plibersek in a Rural and Regional Round Table meeting held in Sydney this week.

The purpose of the round table was to discuss key issues in rural health care, particularly workforce shortages and how to address them.

Dr Steve Hambleton has also met with the Chair of the Review, and members of the Rural Medical Committee have attended working group discussions on the Rural Classification System; Rural Workforce Distribution, Attraction and Retention, and the Districts of Workforce Shortage Classification System.

Telephone Help Line Might Not Reduce ED Attendance

The importance of GPs in primary care was confirmed in a recent study published in this week’s edition of Medical Journal of Australia.

The study, conducted by Dr Joseph Ng and co-authors, measured how many appropriate emergency department (ED) referrals were made by the free telephone advice line, healthdirect, compared with self-referrals and referrals made by GPs. It found that GP referrals had the highest level of appropriateness. “Unfortunately, the availability of GPs is declining, particularly after hours” the report stated. The study also found that healthdirect and self-referrals were similar in their appropriateness.

Interestingly, the study also found that more than half the healthdirect-referred patients attended the ED despite a contrary recommendation, probably due to difficulty accessing after-hours health services.

An accompanying editorial published in the same issue of the MJA questioned the value of healthdirect in being able to determine the need for a patient to attend an ED, and stated that ‘consideration must be given to whether healthdirect represents the best use of finite health dollars’.

View the study by clicking here.

View the editorial by clicking here

Doctors take stand against MHS Defence deal

It appears that many specialists from around the country are refusing to sign up to provider agreements being offered by Medibank Health Solutions (MHS), which has been contracted to manage and coordinate health care services for Australian Defence Force personnel. Feedback to the AMA is that doctors are not happy with the cuts to the proposed fee schedule and the conditions that have the potential to limit patient choice, constrain clinical independence and compromise patient confidentiality.

Dr Hambleton has warned the Federal Government that the health care of Defence personnel is being put in jeopardy by the new arrangements and asked to the relevant Minister, the Hon Warren Snowdon, the intervene.

Media reports as at yesterday indicated that MHS has been forced to put in place arrangements, at least for the next six weeks, that will see military doctors able to refer to specialists who have not signed up to the deal.

For more click here and here.

Accessing the AMA List of Medical Services and Fees - 1 November 2012

The AMA List of Medical Services and Fees (AMA List), effective 1 November 2012, has been distributed to all members listed as being in private practice or with rights of private practice, and to salaried members who have ordered a copy.

To access the List from the AMA website simply enter your username and password in the box on the right hand side of the home page and follow these steps:

  1. Once you have entered your login details, from the home page go to Members Benefits at the top of the page.
  2. Under AMA Member Benefits, select AMA List of Medical Services and Fees link.
  3. For the Fees List, select option 1, AMA List of Medical Services and Fees -1 November 2012.
  4. Download either or both the CSV (for importing into practice software) and PDF (for viewing) versions of the AMA List.

A Fees Indexation Calculator (option 13) is also available for members to calculate their own fee increase based on their individual cost profile.

The AMA Fees List Online Database (option 12), where members can view, print or download individual items or groups of items to suit their needs, has been updated as at 1 November 2012.

AMA members, can also access the AMA List of Medical Services and Fees and other relevant tools via the GP Desktop Practice Support Toolkit.

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


Taking a well deserved break is now even more rewarding for AMA members with a Free Double Upgrade offer on weekend rentals of 2 days or more.

This offer is in addition to your exclusive discounted AMA rate, and free membership to Hertz #1 Gold which offers priority service for frequent renters.

The double upgrade is available to AMA members at participating Hertz rental locations around Australia and when renting specified vehicle types. Simply call Hertz reservations on 13 30 39, or visit and quote your Customer Discount Programme #283826 and Promotion Code 174521

In this issue

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 by phone (02) 6270 5400. You can unsubscribe from GPNN by emailing