GP Network News, Issue 12 Number 45

16 Nov 2012

AMACGP Chair Writes to Medicare Locals on After Hours Services

The Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice (AMACGP), Dr Brian Morton, wrote this week to rural Medicare Locals across Australia, urging them to engage with current providers of after hours services and to provide advice to the AMA and GPs around the country, as to how they are preparing to meet their Stage 2 obligations for the provision of after hours services.

Dr Morton emphasised that funding support for existing practices providing quality after hours services should be maintained and that consultation with existing after hours service providers would be an essential component in the development of the Medicare Locals’ Stage 2 plans. This will be particularly important in rural areas where local GPs are patients’ only access point for face-to-face primary care services in the after hours period.

He added that after hours providers need clarity about funding arrangements under Medicare Locals in order to assess and plan their ongoing capacity to deliver after hours services. In his letter, Dr Morton requested Medicare Locals to advise on how they will identify and liaise with existing providers regarding the provision of service, ensuring continuity of care, and managing contract arrangements and future funding arrangements.

Remove PBS authority red tape

The AMA is calling on the Government to remove the policy that requires medical practitioners to phone for an ‘authority’ to prescribe certain medicines under the PBS.

This single step would make a significant improvement to the productivity and efficiency of medical practice.

There is no evidence that this policy improves patient outcomes. The Productivity Commission has twice recommended that this administrative burden be lifted. PBS data that tracks prescribing patterns after medicines are moved from full authority to streamlined arrangements show no impact on prescribing behaviour.

The AMA has received a deluge of complaints over the last two months from members reporting waits of up to ten minutes on the Authorities Freecall Service. Click here to let us know how much time you spend waiting for your calls to be answered each day.

Help us remove this pointless administrative burden by clicking here for a template letter to send to the Commonwealth Minister for Health. You can post the letter or email it to

Patients with Type-2 diabetes prefer advice from their GP over pharmacists

A recent study in the UK journal Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy explored the experiences and views of patients with type-2 diabetes in the light of the current UK government’s agenda for community pharmacists to assume greater responsibility for medication management in patients with chronic conditions.

The study, by Michael Twigg from the University of East Anglia, et al, found that although patients accepted pharmacists’ expertise regarding their medicines they continued to perceive their doctor as the controller of their treatment. This finding is of interest to Australian GPs with the launch of the Diabetes MedsCheck program in Australia.

The study also found that patients were unsure what questions pharmacists could appropriately answer and felt that it was essential that pharmacists should know them and their histories in order to discuss their condition and provide relevant advice.

MJA: Managing Diabetes and Preventing Complications

The Medical Journal of Australia has released an Online First Publication related to the management of diabetes, titled Managing diabetes and preventing complications: what makes the difference? The report, by Dr Jane Speight, of the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes in Melbourne, advocates a more effective management of diabetes can be achieved through a greater focus on improving self-management skills, reducing diabetes-related distress and improving clinician-patient communication. The author calls for greater research and the establishment of clinical practices that value biomedical and psychological processes and outcomes equally.

To view the article click here

Investigating Symptoms of Lung Cancer: A Guide for GPs

The Australian Government agency, Cancer Australia, has recently released a guide to assist GPs to manage people who have or may have lung cancer and to support the early and rapid referral into the cancer care pathway.

The Guide can be accessed here

Email facilities for Medicare enquiries

GPs are reminded that if they need to ask Medicare Australia a question they are able to make their request via email to Questions requiring an interpretation of an MBS item should be sent to The AMA was instrumental in the establishment of these email facilities so that GP receive responses in writing and have a record of the advice provided.

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


AMA members can enter a competition to win one of 5 x $1000 credit which will be awarded in time for Christmas - a great incentive for AMA members to renew promptly with their AMA American Express cards by 14 December.

Prizes shall be awarded to 5 lucky AMA members who have used an AMA American Express card to pay for their monthly, quarterly or annual membership fees. Prizes will be drawn on the 19th December so that the prize winners can spend their $1000 on Christmas related items if they choose. Good luck!

Conditions apply

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