GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 15

19 Apr 2013

Dr Brian Morton, Chair AMACGP

Urgent Advice re IMS Health Australia Limited

The AMA has lodged a formal complaint with the Privacy Commissioner and prepared urgent advice for medical practitioners in the wake of recent receipts by medical professionals of an unsolicited letter from IMS Health Australia Limited. The letter advises of IMS’s intention to collect from pharmacies data identifying health professionals and what medicines they prescribe. Click here for advice on what to do if you have received one of these letters.

Medical training hit by education expense reforms

The Government announced last week that from 1 July 2014, tax deductions for work-related self-education expenses would be limited to $2,000 per person. This means that doctors will face the difficult choice of paying higher out-of-pocket costs to pursue life-saving medical training courses or cutting back on these types of courses.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said that Australia has some of the most demanding medical training courses in the world and self-education costs are very high. A $2000 cap on tax deductions will fall well below many basic course costs.

“The Government's proposed reforms will hit junior doctors, salaried doctors, GPs and other specialists, and patients. We urge the Government to reconsider these ill-informed changes,” Dr Hambleton said.

Click here to view the full press release.

COAG must make ‘Closing the Gap’ a national priority

Dr Hambleton said this week that it would be a disgrace if the long-term health needs of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders were not discussed at today’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra.

“We are calling on COAG leaders to agree to the long-term continuation of the National Partnership Agreement with at least the same level of funding for another five years initially,” Dr Hambleton said.

Click here to view the full press release.

AMA President addresses Medical Board

Dr Hambleton in a speech to the Medical Board of Australia this week speculated about the next ten years for the medical profession. Dr Hambleton spoke about medical workforce challenges including ensuring sufficient prevocational and vocational training places, and the impact of supply and demand on future graduates career choices. He also considered health expenditure and what attempts to constrain it might have on the clinical autonomy of the profession. Dr Hambleton also raised concern about the clinical implications of other professional boards, such as the Optometry Board, using guidelines to expand their scope of practice.

Click here for the speech in full.

AMA calls for the cap on the MHNIP to be lifted

Last week Dr Hambleton wrote to the Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, calling for the current cap on the funding of the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program to be lifted. A recently released Evaluation of the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program Final Report assessed the program to be both beneficial to patients and cost effective.

In his letter, Dr Hambleton said funding for the program should be increased in line with the growth in overall mental health spending. Dr Hambleton also expressed concern at the unmet need identified within the evaluation and that funding should be expanded as appropriate to ensure reasonable access to services in areas of unmet need.

The AMA strongly believes mental health nurses in general practice are critical to the ongoing care of those patients suffering severe and persistent mental health illness who are primarily reliant on their GPs for treatment.

Contribute to point of care testing best practice guidelines

AMA GPs are invited to nominate to a drafting committee established by the National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (NPAAC) to develop best practice guidelines for point of care testing.

NPAAC is seeking candidates with some expertise or interest in Cat M or Cat S laboratories or an operational knowledge of point of care testing and who have an understanding of the pathology accreditation framework. The committee will meet formally four times a year with additional teleconferences as required. Members will be remunerated and travel costs reimbursed.  

The AMA Federal Executive Council will select two AMA nominees from applicants. Their details will then be forwarded to the NPAAC to undergo its selection process. 

To nominate, please forward a current CV to by Monday, 29 April 2013. If you have any questions, please contact Georgia Morris 02 6270 5466. 

AMA response to Coalition’s Deregulation Reform Discussion Paper

Late in 2012, Tony Abbott MHR released the Coalition’s Deregulation Reform Discussion Paper and invited comments by interested parties including the AMA. The AMA’s response makes it clear that the majority of general practices and other medical specialist practices are small to medium businesses.

Drawing on the AMA’s 2011 GP survey on red tape, the AMA’s submission takes the opportunity to reiterate some of our current concerns in the area of regulatory burdens for medical practitioners. This submission draws specific attention to the following areas:

  • PBS Phone Authorisations
  • Medicare Provider Numbers
  • Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR)
  • Health Care Identifiers
  • Centrelink and DVA requirements
  • Chronic Disease Management items under the MBS

A copy of the Coalition’s Deregulation Reform Discussion Paper can be found here and the AMA’s submission can be found here.

Private health insurance changes – what it means for medical practitioners

The AMA has prepared information for medical practitioners on the recent changes to government support for private health insurance premiums that may impact on their patients’ level of cover for medical services. This information may assist practitioners providing informed financial consent to their patients.

Click here for further details.

Indigenous medical students encouraged to apply for AMA scholarship

Dr Hambleton is encouraging Indigenous medical students to apply for the 2013 AMA Indigenous Peoples’ Medical Scholarship.

Applications for the scholarship of $9000 per annum must be in by 10 May 2012. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be currently enrolled full time at an Australian medical school and be eligible for ABSTUDY.

Click here for information on how to apply.

Second term for Dr Haikerwal AO

The AMA congratulates its former President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal AO, on his re-election for a second two-year term as Chair of the World Medical Association (WMA) Council.

Dr Hambleton said that Dr Haikerwal’s re-appointment reflects the respect and high regard in which his medical colleagues around the world hold him. He is an outstanding doctor and an inspiration for the Australian medical profession. The AMA looks forward to continuing to work with Dr Haikerwal in his role as WMA Chair.

10th Edition Immunisation Handbook now available

The 10th edition of the Australian Immunisation Handbook, which provides clinical advice for health professionals on the safest and most effective use of vaccines in their practice, is now available.

For more information visit the Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition website. The handbook can be downloaded from the AMA GP Desktop Support Toolkit under Guidelines.

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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