GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 20

24 May 2013

Dr Brian Morton, Chair AMACGP

AMA Appoints New Secretary General

The Executive Council of the Federal AMA this week announced the appointment of Ms Anne Trimmer as Secretary General of the Federal AMA.

Ms Trimmer is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA).  Prior to joining the MTAA, Anne had an extensive career in the legal profession, practising law as a commercial partner of a major Australian law firm, and has held several leadership positions in professional and educational bodies. She also chairs the Centre of Excellence in Vision Sciences at the Australian National University and is a director of Research Australia and Plan International Australia.

Anne is expected to commence duties with the AMA in August 2013.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said that the AMA is very pleased to have recruited a person of Anne’s calibre and experience for the Secretary General role.

Click here for full media release.

AMA Backs Moves to Strengthen School Immunisation Requirements

The AMA Federal Council has confirmed its support for moves to strengthen immunisation requirements when children enroll in school.

Rather than an outright ban, Dr Hambleton said, the AMA is more supportive of measures that oblige parents to supply full documentation of the child’s immunisation status before they are allowed to attend schools. This would cover complete or incomplete immunisation records or conscientious objector status documentation.

Dr Hambleton said that we need nationally consistent requirements so we can get action on the children around the country who are not immunised or who have not completed their full immunisation program.

“The parents of these children must be encouraged to make a decision before their children can enter school – either complete the immunisation or sign up as a conscientious objector.”

This will enable schools to identify which children need to be sent home if there is a disease outbreak at their school and to encourage parents of not fully immunised children to see their GP to complete their immunisation program.

Click here for the full media release.

JABBED – Love, fear and vaccines

GPs are advised that some of their patients may have questions about vaccinations following the screening this Sunday 26 May, of a documentary on vaccination, titled JABBED – love, fear and vaccines. The documentary will screen on SBS ONE at 8.30pm. It acknowledges the risk of vaccines, but reminds viewers of the far greater consequences when community protection to communicable diseases breaks down.

According to the program, while more than 90% of Australians support vaccination, some people are not getting around to it and some are delaying or refusing vaccines. Some of these parents are anxious about the rare cases of serious reactions to vaccination. JABBED explores these issues.

Well-known medical leaders, such as immunologist Sir Gustav Nossal, the co-inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine Professor Ian Frazer, and leading neurologist Professor Ingrid Scheffer, assisted to ensure the material in the film is informed by evidence.

There will be an online forum immediately following the film, at This site also provides more on the national survey and other background information.

Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program – submit your claims before 14 August

The Government in the 2013-14 Federal Budget has committed funding for another year for the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) at current funding levels. The MHNIP is currently capped at 2011-12 funding levels. The Department of Human Services (DHS) will be advising participating practices and organisations of their funding allocation in June. The allocation will be based on the number of actual sessions conducted in 2012-13 and paid by the DHS.

If you participate in the MHNIP, the AMA urges you to submit any outstanding claims for 2012-2013 before 14 August 2013, to ensure that all data for the year is included in determining session allocations for 2013-2014.

Following the release of the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) evaluation report in December last year, the Australian Government is looking at ways to improve the design of the Program and is consulting with stakeholders, including the AMA. A key issue for consideration is the management of demand and appropriate future funding arrangements.

New DVA website – At Ease Professional

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), as part of its commitment to ensuring serving and ex-serving personnel can access mental health support when they need it, has launched a new website, At Ease Professional.

The website can assist mental health practitioners to respond to the needs of contemporary veterans and offers one-stop access to the latest veteran mental health research, assessment tools, evidence-based treatment, outcome tools and patient resources.

At Ease Professional will be updated regularly to ensure it remains current and you can subscribe to quarterly updates on the latest additions to the site.

For further information visit

New anti-tobacco campaign launched - Stop before the suffering starts

The Australian Government has launched a new wave of advertising as part of its National Tobacco Campaign in an effort to continue to reduce the daily adult smoking rates in Australia. The campaign Stop before the suffering starts focuses on suffering through respiratory illnesses such as emphysema and COPD, with other elements of the campaign highlighting the benefits of quitting.

With the launch of the new wave of advertising, GPs are urged to discuss the campaign with their patients who are smokers and their families, and offer a brief intervention to encourage quit attempts.

While smoking rates in Australia have declined over time, there are still around 3.1 million Australians aged 15 years or over who smoke.

The Stop before the Suffering Starts campaign runs through to June 2013.

Australian Medicine

GPs may be interested in a number of items in this week’s edition of Australian Medicine:

  • Dr Brian Morton writes about the recent Budget cuts that impact upon general practice – click here;
  • Danish researchers find that antibiotics could cure 40% of back pain – click here;
  • The Government plans to spend $10 million to upgrade the PCEHR scheme to include Advance Care Directives that set out patient wishes for treatment as they approach the end of their life – click here; and
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration finds no link between the vaccine Gardasil and infertility – click here.

For these stories and more view the latest edition of Australian Medicine at 

Remote Vocational Training Scheme – applications now open

Doctors wishing to train for GP Fellowship in rural or remote locations are advised that applications are now open to commence training with the Remote Vocational Training Scheme in February 2014. Applications close on Friday 28 June.

Click here for more information on the RTVS website.

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