GP Network News, Issue 12 Number 49

14 Dec 2012

AMA Welcomes ACCC Decision on GP Fees

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, this week welcomed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) draft decision to authorise an application made by the AMA to permit GPs working in the same practice (as defined) to agree on the fees charged to patients attending that practice.

The draft decision also proposes to permit GPs working in the same practice to negotiate collectively with hospitals and Medicare Locals on fees.

A final decision is expected from the ACCC in February 2013.

View the media release in full.

More Generalists Needed in Australian Health System

The AMA this week released its new Position Statement on Fostering Generalism in the Medical Workforce 2012.

The Position Statement responds to the growing trend of fewer and fewer medical graduates choosing a generalist career path, and recommends better training programs and career pathways, and greater recognition and support for the important work provided by generalists across the health system.

Dr Hambleton, said that generalists are highly regarded specialists who play a vital role in the health system as clinicians, teachers, and researchers in all settings, from tertiary public hospitals to remote practices.

“Many Australian families, especially in rural Australia, have been cared for by the local family doctor who ran the general practice, delivered babies, and performed minor operations. But, over the last decade, the medical workforce has become increasingly specialised, driven by changes in knowledge, technology, health service delivery, and health care financing.

Click here for the AMA Position Statement on Fostering Generalism in the Medical Workforce 2012 and view the press release here.


AMA Provides Practical Advice on Health Workforce Program

The AMA recently made a submission to the Review of Australian Government Health Workforce Programs, which is examining Commonwealth programs and activities designed to increase, train, support, plan, and distribute the Australian health workforce.

The AMA submission covers a number of areas including:

  • The need to better plan and coordinate the medical training pipeline, including the further expansion of prevocational and vocational GP training places;
  • The Rural Rescue Package, setting out a comprehensive set of incentives to encourage more doctors to work in rural and remote areas;
  • The impact of the ten moratorium on international medical graduates;
  • Anomalies in the ASGC-RA classification system;
  • The unfounded Bonded Medical Places program.

The review is expected to finalise a draft report before the end of 2012 and a final report to the Minister for Health is due in March 2013.

View the media release and the submission & attachments.

Aged care residents will miss out on medical care – says AMA Survey

An AMA survey of members conducted in July highlights that older Australians living in residential aged care have limited access to medical services and the situation is set to worsen, as the older medical workforce is providing the majority of those services, and over 15% of them intend to reduce their visits over the next two years.

Dr Hambleton said the aged care sector is in urgent need of support and long-term vision, and the AMA is calling on the major parties to spell out comprehensive aged care policies ahead of next year’s election.

“The AMA calls on the Minister for Ageing to convene a specific forum for clinical providers to consider and advise the Government on the best options to incorporate medical and nursing care into the aged care sector,” Dr Hambleton said.

Medicare rebates for medical services provided in residential aged care facilities must be increased to reflect the complexity of care and the significant amount of additional, but clinically relevant, non face-to-face time required to oversee their care.

View the AMA 2012 Aged Care Survey Report the media release and the AMA Position Statement on Access to Medical Care for Older Australians 2012.

PCEHR - Assisted registration of consumers

The Government has introduced new arrangements to enable medical practices to assist patients to register for the Personally Controlled eHealth Record (PCEHR).

Participation in assisted registration by medical practices is entirely voluntary.

The AMA checklist Getting ready for the PIP eHealth incentive and PCEHR includes references to the updated PIP eHealth secure messaging requirements and to the PCEHR Assisted Registration Rules.

Update on PIP eHealth requirements

The AMA this week received the following advice from the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and the Department of Health and Ageing in relation to the Practice Incentive Program (PIP) eHealth requirements commencing from 1 February 2012:

  • For the PIP secure messaging requirement – the ‘interim NASH certificate’, as used for the PCEHR, will be upgraded and renamed the ‘NASH certificate’ and used for secure messaging. Practices can apply on line for this from 10 December.
  • Practices should receive a letter from the Department of Human Services by the end of December 2012 explaining the PIP requirements in ‘plain English’ and advising that by 1 February 2013, or within four weeks of having received the practice’s NASH digital certificate, whichever is later:
    • practices must have a standards-compliant product with secure messaging capability that is listed on the PIP eHealth Product Register for Secure Messaging; OR
    • have written advice from a vendor listed on the PIP eHealth Product Register for Secure Messaging that their listed product will be available to the practice in order to meet the timeframe for commissioning requirements.
  • Practices will now have until 1 August 2013 to ensure their secure messaging product has been installed and configured consistent with the NeHTA commissioning requirements (which NeHTA advises are currently undergoing vendor consultation).

The AMA checklist and AMA GP Desktop Practice Support Toolkit have been updated to help general practices prepare for e-Health incentive changes.

PBAC nominations invited

AMA members are invited to nominate a general practitioner position on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), which will become vacant next year. This is a challenging and stimulating position that provides the opportunity to contribute directly to pharmaceutical benefits policy in Australia.

PBAC is an independent expert committee that advises the Minister for Health on medicines in relation to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. PBAC is required to consider the clinical effectiveness, safety and cost effectiveness of a medication compared with existing therapies. Members must be able to interpret the comparative outcomes of therapy involving a medicine and appraise evidence.

The AMA has been asked to nominate a range of potential candidates including those from a rural practice or remote area who treat aboriginal communities or have an interest/experience in this area. The AMA's Federal Executive Council will assess nominations prior to forwarding them to the Minister for potential appointment. PBAC meets for three, three-day meetings per year and may occasionally hold additional one-day meetings. PBAC members currently receive an annual salary of $35,880 and all travel costs are reimbursed. Appointments are for four years.

Click here for further information about PBAC.

To nominate, please forward a curriculum vitae no longer than 2 pages to by Tuesday, 15 January 2013. If you have any questions, please contact Georgia Morris on 02 6270 5466.

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


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 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