GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 18

10 May 2013

Dr Brian Morton, Chair AMACGP

Medicare must be spared from Budget cuts

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, this week said that Medicare must be spared from any cuts in next week’s Federal Budget.

Dr Hambleton said that the usual Budget rumours are circulating about possible cuts to various Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items, but this year the more serious speculation is about proposals to freeze MBS indexation or to limit access to Medicare safety nets through means testing or higher thresholds.

“Medicare must be quarantined from arbitrary Budget savings,” Dr Hambleton said. Cuts to Medicare rebates and changes to Medicare safety nets inevitably increase out of pocket costs for medical care adding to financial pain for patients and downstream costs for the health system if early diagnosis and treatment is delayed.

“With the Government looking at ways to reduce the Budget deficit, there is talk that they might freeze indexation of MBS fees, in the same way that the Howard Government did in 1996. The AMA estimates that such a freeze could save the Government around $1.54 billion over four years. That is a lot of money to take out of health when demand for quality health care is rising dramatically. The AMA has called on the Government to rule out such a callous raid on vital health funding.”

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA and other groups are working closely with the Government to ensure that Medicare is ‘future proofed’ to ensure patients have access to rebates for safe, effective medical treatments, and that ongoing expenditure is sustainable. Medicare cuts at this time would undermine this process.

“Our Budget message to the Government is clear – hands off Medicare.”

Click here to view the full press release.

Spreading the message about the importance of immunisation

The AMA this week mailed 7500 copies of the Australian Academy of Science publication, The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers, to general practitioners in every State and Territory.

Dr Hambleton said that it is vital that parents have easy access to the most authoritative information and evidence in support of immunisation.

“People trust their GP with their family health. We are making sure that as many GPs as possible have copies of the Academy of Science booklet so they can share quality evidence with parents who need reassurance about the safety of vaccination,” Dr Hambleton said.

The booklet 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. The strong scientific evidence, clear explanations, and easy-to-understand language of the booklet will help reassure people, including conscientious objectors, about the safety and efficacy of immunisation and help stop the decline in immunisation rates.

The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers is available on the Australian Academy of Science website at

Click here to view the full press release.

Medical Journal of Australia appoints new Editor in Chief

The Board of the AMA’s publication Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) this week announced the appointment and commencement of Professor Stephen Leeder AO as its new Editor in Chief.

Professor Leeder brings enormous experience and knowledge to the Journal. He is a professor of public health and community medicine at the University of Sydney and former Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy. Professor Leeder has a long history of involvement in public health research, educational development and policy. His research interests as a clinical epidemiologist have been mainly asthma and cardiovascular disease.

Professor Leeder graduated in medical science from the University of Sydney in 1962, in medicine in 1966 and as a Doctor of Philosophy in 1974. He was Dean of the Medical Faculty at the University of Sydney between 1996 and 2002 during which time he oversaw the implementation of a new graduate educational program and the formation of an extensive rural education network for medical students. He has also served on the Senate of the University of Sydney for several terms, had two double terms as national president of the Public Health Association, and one triennium as chair of the Health Advisory Committee of NHMRC.

The Board has also acknowledged the contribution from Acting Editor, Dr Ann Gregory, and Senior Deputy Editor, Dr Ruth Armstrong, since September 2012.

Click here for the full media release.

Involving Pharmacists in General Practice

AMA Council of General Practice Chair, Dr Brian Morton, writes in this week’s Australian Medicine on how GPs and pharmacists could work together. Recent research has shown that GPs were more likely to implement pharmacist recommendations when the pharmacist was integrated into the medical centre.

Click here to read the article.

Fresh batches of flu vaccine under production

The nation’s only maker of influenza vaccines, bioCSL, has restarted production of its influenza types A and B vaccine after stocks were depleted last month amid warnings that the nation was at risk of a severe outbreak of the disease following a killer season in the United States and Europe.

Additional doses of the vaccine will not be ready for delivery until the end of May, and priority will be given to those considered to be the most at-risk, including the elderly, children, and pregnant women.

Click here for more.

Diary Note: AMA National Conference 24-26 May 2013

The AMA is urging grassroots doctors to join our delegates to help us send strong signals to the Government and the Opposition about what needs to be done to strengthen our health system and make it more efficient.

Help the AMA continue to make a difference – click here for program details and to register to attend the AMA National Conference at The Westin, Sydney, 24-26 May 2013.

Spoil yourself with Hertz*

Hertz & BMW have recently formed a new partnership which sees the introduction of the BMW 118i, 318i, X3 and X5 to the Hertz rental fleet.

To celebrate the launch, AMA members can hire one of these impressive vehicles for 3 days or more and receive a 15% discount off the best available rate. That’s on top of all the usual benefits you’d expect with your Hertz rental, including free membership to the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Program. To book go to and quote CDP Number 283826 and Promotion Code 182210, or call Hertz Reservations on 13 30 39.

*Terms and conditions apply. Offer available at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth metro locations. Minimum rental period of 3 consecutive days applies. Hertz standard terms, conditions and credit qualifications apply.

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