GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 17

3 May 2013

Dr Brian Morton, Chair AMACGP

AMA President to serve third term

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, will be elected unopposed later this month at the AMA National Conference to serve a third term as President.

Current AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, will also serve a third term in his role. An election will be held for the position of Chairman of Council with nominations from Dr Roderick McRae and Dr Iain Dunlop, and possibly for the position of Treasurer should the unsuccessful candidate for Chairman decide to stand for election as Treasurer. Dr Elizabeth Feeney is currently the only nomination for Treasurer with current Treasurer, Dr Peter Ford, not seeking re-election.

Click here for the media release.

Tax changes will downskill Australia’s medical workforce

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, held a media doorstop this week calling for the Government to reverse its decision to cap tax deductions for work-related self-education expenses to $2,000 per person from 1 July 2014. Dr Hambleton said that the proposed changes would have a devastating effect on the ability of doctors to improve their medical knowledge and skills through their training years, and with professional development throughout their careers.

An AMA online poll has received more than 4200 responses from concerned doctors, with an overwhelming 98 per cent stating that the changes would seriously impair their professional development as a doctor.

Dr Hambleton said that the Government's policy will hit junior doctors, salaried doctors, GPs and other specialists alike and is simply not in the public interest. Rural and remote doctors will be hit hard by the changes because they are unable to access the training they need locally.

“It will create a huge disincentive for doctors to pursue specialised education that benefits the whole community,” Dr Hambleton said.

“While the Treasurer has assured the AMA that there will be a consultation process, the AMA believes that the Government needs to revise its starting point for negotiation – a $2000 cap defies reality,” Dr Hambleton said.

Click here to view the AMA press release.

Medical practitioner workforce survey

As part of the national registration process the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the National Boards make available a workforce survey which each health practitioner is requested to complete at the time of their annual registration renewal.

The AMA has been working with HWA to improve the quality of data with respect to this year’s medical registration process. More robust data will ensure that we are well informed about the current medical workforce, the nature and complexities of the work undertaken, and the pathways taken by medical practitioners.

HWA has developed a revised survey for this year’s registration process and would appreciate your help to pilot the revised survey. The survey will take around 10-15 minutes to complete online, and space for feedback will be provided next to each question. Feedback will be confidential and need only be provided where you have comments on a question, and can be provided via the survey, email or phone.

If you can spend 10-15 minutes completing the online Medical Practitioner survey click here. For more information please email or phone Deborah Brown on (08) 8409 4628 for further details.

Medical expenses a small part of total out of pocket costs for health care

Dr Hambleton said this week that out of pocket expenses for health care is a serious and sensitive issue for Australian families that deserves a factual and credible debate, not rhetoric and misinformation.

“Out of pocket costs are a reality in health care, primarily because the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fees, and therefore rebates, have fallen well behind the true cost of providing quality health services to the Australian community,” Dr Hambleton said.

However, medical expenses are a small part of total out of pocket expenses experienced by Australian patients. Yet the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has inferred that medical expenses are the major cause. Average out of pocket expenses for medical services account for only 11.5% ($125) of the $1082 average out of pocket expenses per person per year.

In the April 2013 edition of the Consumers Health Forum magazine, CEO Carol Bennett claimed that ‘our fee-for-service throughput system is clearly not delivering for consumers. It is time we started seriously considering alternatives that reward health outcomes, and that focus more on the needs of the consumer than the needs of those providing services.’

“We agree that out of pocket costs for overall health care are a concern. But the solution lies in fixing the system, not attacking the hardworking professionals who provide quality health care,” Dr Hambleton said.

Click here to view the full press release.

AMA Supports increase in Medicare levy to help fund National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Dr Hambleton said this week that the AMA supports the Government’s plan to increase the Medicare levy to partially fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). He said the Scheme will benefit the entire community by providing proper care and support for Australians with a disability and their families, and it is appropriate that the broader community contribute to the Scheme through the levy.

“There is still work to be done in how the Scheme will operate, and the AMA is keen to provide medical input to this work,” Dr Hambleton said.

Click here to view to press release.

PBS data on Coveram and Reaptan

GPs may get queries from pharmacists due to a problem with PBS data for Coveram and Reaptan potentially appearing incorrectly in pharmacy dispensing software.

Coveram and Reaptan combine Perindopril and Amlodipine.  The manufacturer lists the Perindopril component first.  However, as a result of a recent change, the PBS data lists Amlodipine first.

The MSIA has advised the AMA that software vendors with prescribing software have the Coveram information in their systems appearing correctly. However, this may not be the case with pharmacy dispensing software.  The Pharamcy Guild has alerted pharmacies of this anomaly.

AMA 2013 National Conference - More CPD Activity News

The AMA is pleased to announce that ACRRM has advised that 6 core CPD points will be allocated across the following policy sessions at conference:

  • Revalidation
  • 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.
  • Health has a Postcode - Society's ills and Individuals' health
  • Speakers: Professor Victor Nossar and Dr Harald Klein.

The Conference is also a registered activity with the RACGP, offering 9, category 2 points. Take advantage of the CPD points available at conference - it's not too late to register for what we expect will be an outstanding event! 

Click here to register.

Click here to find out more about the conference.

New DVA Primary Health Care Circular

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) has merged its two publications, The Allied Links and Practice Managers’ Circular, to form a new publication titled Primary Health Care Circular. This on-line circular contains information that will assist health professionals and service providers to do business more easily with the Department and interact with the veteran community, and provides advice regarding DVA’s administrative processes.

Click here to view the first combined edition of the circular for 2013.

Changes to HbA1c reporting

From July this year, HbA1c results will only be reported in the new International Federation of Clinical Chemists (IFCC) format of mmol/mol. Since July 2011, as Australia has been moving towards this change, results have been reported in the dual format of the traditional % and mmol/mol.

Click here for further information in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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