GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 16

26 Apr 2013

Dr Brian Morton, Chair AMACGP

Cap on tax deductions for work-related self-education expenses

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, this week wrote to AMA members urging them to join the fight against the Government’s recent announcement that from 1 July 2014, tax deductions for work-related self-education expenses would be limited to $2,000 per person.

The AMA strongly opposes this significant new obstacle for doctors who wish to improve their skills and knowledge so they can provide better care for their patients.

Dr Hambleton said that this change will hit junior doctors, salaried doctors, GPs, and other specialists and will ultimately have an impact on patients because it creates a huge disincentive for doctors to pursue specialised education that could help save lives and improve the quality of life for many Australians.

The AMA will campaign aggressively against the changes, and we will need your help.

What you can do:

  • Vote in our poll;
  • Tell us how this decision will affect you and your patients by leaving a comment on the AMA website;
  • Contact your local Federal MP or Senator and tell them about this attack on your professional development. Their contact details can be found here; and
  • Tell your colleagues so they are aware of what is happening, and if they are not a member encourage them to join the campaign and join the AMA.

Click here to read the President’s Blog on this issue.

AMA raises concerns about doctor data collection via pharmacies

As reported in last week’s GPNN, 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.

Dr Hambleton said that it appears that the IMS letter was unsolicited and tells doctors that they must write to IMS to opt out of the data collection arrangement the company has with pharmacies.

"It is our understanding that the arrangement may be in breach of the Privacy Act, is in contravention of community standards regarding the handling of health information, and is in contravention of the Code of Ethics for Pharmacists. We have asked the Privacy Commissioner to urgently investigate this matter," Dr Hambleton said.

Click here for advice on what to do if you have received one of these letters.

Changes to the Healthy Kids Check: will we get it right?

This week’s online edition of Medical Journal of Australia features an article by Dr Michael Daubney, a child psychiatrist at Griffith University, who questions the Government’s plan to lower the age for the voluntary Healthy Kids Check to three years and to incorporate questions about social and emotional well being.

Dr Daubney suggests that before starting large-scale, population social-emotional screening of 3-year-old children, there needs to be further research into norms for Australian 3-year-olds followed by the development of a reliable population-based screening tool.

Click here to read Dr Daubney’s article in MJA Online.

Influenza Vaccination Reminders

Following media reports this week that a number of children have recently been mistakenly injected with Fluvax, GPs are reminded that Fluvax® (CSL) is not approved by the TGA for use in children under 5 years of age in 2013 and must not be given to this age group.

There are four seasonal influenza vaccines approved by the TGA for use in Australia in 2013 in persons aged 6 months and older. These are Agrippal® (Novartis), Fluarix® (GlaxoSmithKline), Influvac® (Abbott) and Vaxigrip® (Sanofi).

Clinical advice for immunisation providers regarding administration of the 2013 trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine is available on the Department of Health and Ageing’s (DoHA) Immunise Australia Program website.

GPs are also reminded that GlaxoSmithKline Australia (GSK), in consultation with the TGA, issued a precautionary product notification for its influenza vaccine, Fluarix, and is advising a visual inspection of Fluarix pre-filled syringes, to check for any inclusion, prior to administration.

The precautionary alert was issued because the TGA received a report that one dose of Fluarix vaccine failed to be completely administered because of a manufacturing defect, in which what appeared to be a piece of glass-like material blocked the action of the syringe. No harm to the patient was reported.

Click here for further information on the TGA product alert.

New Combined Vaccine to be added to the National Immunisation Program

Medicare advises that from 1 July 2013, a combined measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (MMRV) vaccine for children aged 18 months will be added to the National Immunisation Program. This means there will be a reduction in the number of injections currently provided under the program.

The combined MMRV vaccine will replace:

  • the monovalent varicella vaccine (for chickenpox) currently given at 18 months, and
  • the second dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine currently scheduled for four year olds.

Children who have already received their 18-month varicella vaccine (for chickenpox) will still need to be immunised for MMR at four years old. This schedule point will remain until all children between 18 months and four years, as at 1 July 2013, reach four years i.e. 31 December 2015.

For more information visit the Immunise Australia Program website.

Veteran’s Mates

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) and the Veterans' MATES project team have prepared the thirty-fourth topic for the Veterans' MATES project. This topic, Early adoption of the Annual Diabetes Cycle of Care, focuses on your veteran patients recently diagnosed with diabetes and supports the early implementation of the Diabetes Cycle of Care.

A therapeutic brief and veteran brochure, along with other topic-related materials, was mailed in late March to approximately 6000 general practitioners who treat veterans. In May 2013, the veteran brochure, Getting on Board: The Diabetes Cycle of Care, will be mailed to veteran patients who have been initiated on a diabetes medicine in the last two years, or who have received a service indicative of a patient with recently diagnosed diabetes.

For more information visit the Veterans MATES website.

AMA 2013 National Conference - CPD Activity Update

The AMA is pleased to announce that the RACGP has advised that 9, category 2 points, will be allocated across the following policy sessions at conference:


Speakers: Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins, Dr Joanna Flynn AM and Professor Ron Paterson

Finding ways to provide the best possible end-of-life care

Speakers: Dr Peter Saul, Dr Kate Robins-Browne and Professor Michael Ashby

A Market Economy for Health

Speakers: Mr Rohan Mead, Professor Just Stoelwinder and Dr Brian Morton.

The AMA has also applied for CPD points through ACRRM and will provide updated information in next week's GPNN. Take advantage of the CPD points available at conference - it's not too late to register for what we expect to be an outstanding event!

Register here

Find out more about the conference 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