GP Network News, Issue 12 Number 47

30 Nov 2012

GP Leaders Call For Urgent Action on GP Workforce

The leaders of members of United General Practice Australia (UGPA) met this week in Canberra to discuss their response to Volume 3 of Health Workforce Australia’s (HWA) Workforce 2025 Report, which was released earlier this month, and to identify priority areas for Government investment to ensure a strong general practice workforce into the future.

UGPA called for greater Government support for supervisors, training infrastructure, and integrated support services to underpin GP-based training. It welcomed the AMA proposal that the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) Teaching Incentive should be significantly increased to allow practices to increase their capacity to meet growing training demands.

UGPA also called upon the Government to provide greater support for GPs to acquire procedural skills to operate at their full scope of practice and insisted that all existing successful after hours GP services should have their funding maintained as new after hours systems are implemented.

UGPA urged all levels of government in Australia to develop appropriate measures to properly distribute the GP workforce nationally to ensure all Australians are easily able to access quality primary health care services through general practice.

View the full press release here.

AMA Welcomes New Immunisation Fact Book

The AMA this week commended the Australian Academy of Science on its new publication, The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers. The booklet was launched in Sydney this week by the President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Suzanne Cory, with the support of AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, and Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice (AMACGP), Dr Brian Morton.

The booklet, which presents a significant body of scientific evidence in support of immunisation, was prepared by the country’s leading scientists in the field of immunology and reviewed by some of Australia’s most prominent and esteemed science and medical figures. It will be an important reference for GPs and their patients.

The new booklet is a timely counter to widespread and dangerous misinformation on vaccinations circulated by anti-immunisation groups.

“The strong scientific evidence, clear explanations, and easy-to-understand language of the Academy’s booklet will reassure people, including conscientious objectors, about the safety and efficacy of immunisation and help ensure that Australia’s immunisation rates remain high,” Dr Hambleton said. View the AMA media release here. AMA members can access the booklet via the GP Desktop Practice Support Toolkit. It is also available on the Australian Academy of Science website.

GPs Make Best Use of Fifteen Minutes

In two reports of general practice work released this week by the University of Sydney’s Bettering the Evaluation And Care of Health (BEACH) program, it has been found that, during a visit to their GP, patients are presenting with more issues and GPs are managing more problems, and doing more tests and procedures than they were 10 years ago, even though the time spent with each patient has remained virtually unchanged.

The two reports, General practice activity in Australia 2011-12 and A decade of Australian general practice 2002-03 to 2011-12, which provide data on the activities of Australia’s GPs and the care of their patients, show that people are seeing their GP more often than they were a decade ago and presenting with a wider range of complaints, particularly chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, lipid disorders and depression.

The BEACH program, which continuously collects information about clinical activities in general practice in Australia, revealed data, drawn from 9802 participating GPs, showing that in the 10 years to 2011-12 the number of problems GPs managed leapt from 145 per 100 patient encounters to 154 per 100, suggesting that last financial year doctors collectively treated 48 million more problems than they did a decade earlier.

View the full AMA media release here.

General practice activity in Australia 2011-12 report is available here

A decade of Australian general practice 2002-03 to 2011-12 report is available here:

Changes to the PBS and software update delays

Changes to the PBS that will take effect from 1 December 2012 will not be reflected in prescribing software packages until 14 December.

This means that you will need to check the new, amended or deleted listings during this two-week period. Full details of the changes are already available in both downloadable and print ready versions.

We recommend you print out the documents Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (Summary of Changes) and Errata to Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits as a handy reference.

There has been no change to the vast majority of items on PBS. You will be able to use the October updated prescribing software to produce a computer-generated script for these items.

However, when prescribing new or amended items you will need to use a prescription pad or use your software package’s recipe or manual function until your prescribing software is updated.

Changes for general practitioners are generally not critical - mainly brand changes or discontinued brands, which will be fixed at the pharmacy. However, note the addition of rivaroxaban for a new indication.

The delay to software updates is the result of the Department of Health and Ageing introducing a new, integrated IT system for the PBS to replace over forty existing data systems that had evolved over the last twenty years. The complexity of this changeover delayed necessary information being provided to software vendors in time for the 1 December deadline.

To access the abovementioned reference documents click here.

A Contributing Life: The 2012 Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) this week released its first National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. The report supports a strong primary care approach to delivering health services for people.

Including in one of its recommendations, that priority should be given to the financing of multi-disciplinary primary care (through GPs and other primary health care organisations).

In the light of the report, Dr Hambleton, reiterated the AMA’s disappointment with the government’s cuts to rebates for GP mental health items under Better Access program.

“What mental health care item numbers did was allow GPs to spend longer with patients,” Dr Hambleton said.

More information on the report card is available here.

The full report can be downloaded by clicking here.

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

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