GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 21

31 May 2013

Dr Brian Morton, Chair AMACGP

Urgent advice to members - 'Australasian Health Professionals Directory' Scam

The AMA warns doctors of a scam in which medical practices are being charged up to $5200 for listing in the Australasian Health Professionals Directory.

The Association has been informed that a number of practices have been approached with the offer of a free listing in the Directory, but the fine print of the contract shows that the listing in fact costs $1300 a year for a minimum of three years, and will continue on for a further year if not cancelled.

This scam uses an established strategy to mislead recipients so that they sign the enclosed contract and then face demands for payment. Those who receive this material should ignore it. If you have signed up to the directory, you should immediately send a follow up communication rescinding your participation. Do not make any payment or provide credit card details. The more information you give, the more you expose yourself to risk.

The AMA has written to the Office of Fair Trading in every state and territory alerting it to this matter. As always, members should be very cautious about signing up to agreements that are from unknown or untrusted sources, from Australia and overseas. Often a basic enquiry will reveal sufficient detail to assist you to make an informed choice. If in doubt, contact the Office of Fair Trading in your state or territory, or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Click here for further information on the AMA website and here for the media release.

AMA National Conference condemns cap on self-education tax deductions

An urgency motion condemning the Federal Government's decisions to cap tax deductions for work-related medical self-education expenses was passed unanimously at the AMA National Conference.

The issue was raised with Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, and Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, Peter Dutton, when they attended the Conference, but neither could provide guarantees that the policy would be reversed.

The Minister offered consultation on the issue, but could not assure the Conference that genuine medical training would be exempt from the cap, and the Shadow Minister could not guarantee that the Coalition would reverse the decision should it win Government in September.

Click here to view the AMA media release.

Coalition to review Medicare Locals if elected in September

The AMA welcomes the Coalition's announcement on 24 May 2013 that it will formally review the structure of Medicare Locals if elected in September.

Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Peter Dutton MP and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Primary Health Care, Dr Andrew Southcott MP said in a joint statement that there is a lack of detail and conflicting information regarding, among other things, the objectives of Medicare Locals, the current level of practical assistance being provided, how funding is being administered, and duplication of function with existing State health programs.

The AMA has been strongly advocating a national review of Medicare Locals to both major political parties. It is pleased to see that the Coalition's planned terms of reference align well with those proposed by the AMA.

The Coalition's terms of reference will be focused to: recognise general practice as the cornerstone of primary care in the governance structures; ensure funding supports clinical services rather than administration; assess processes for determining market failure and service intervention, so existing clinical services are not disrupted or discouraged; evaluate the practical interaction with Local Hospital Networks including boundaries; and examine tendering and contracting arrangements.

President's Statement- AMA National Conference

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, addressed the AMA National Conference in Sydney on 24 and 25 May 2013, providing an overview of what the AMA has been doing over the past year and what is planned for the months ahead.

Click here to read the President's Statement.

New AMA Executive elected

Dr Hambleton was elected unopposed at the AMA National Conference to serve a third term as President. AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, the Director of Critical Care at Royal Perth Hospital, was also elected unopposed to serve a third term in his role.

Canberra ophthalmologist, Dr Iain Dunlop, was elected Chairman of Council, and Dr Elizabeth Feeney, an anaesthetist from NSW, was elected Treasurer. AMA NSW President, Dr Brian Owler, and AMA Victoria President, Dr Steve Parnis, were elected to fill the remaining AMA Executive positions.

Dr Hambleton paid tribute to the outstanding contributions over many years from outgoing Treasurer, Dr Peter Ford, and outgoing Chairman of Council, Dr Roderick McRae.

Dr Peter Beaumont (NT), Dr Richard Choong (WA), Dr John Gullotta (NSW), and Dr Tony Bartone (Vic) were elected to represent Federal Council on the AMA Council of General Practice (AMACGP).

AMA Roll of Fellows

Former AMA Queensland President and current AMA Federal Councillor, Dr Richard Kidd, former AMA WA President and current AMA Federal Councillor, Associate Professor David Mountain, and leading GP and medical educator, Professor Simon Willcock, have been added to the Roll of Fellows in recognition of the outstanding contribution each has made to both the AMA and the medical profession.

Dr Hambleton, announced the additions at the AMA National Conference, saying that the three new Fellows were distinguished representatives of the profession.

Prominent AMA GPs recognised with President's Award

Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice, Dr Brian Morton, and outgoing AMA Treasurer, Dr Peter Ford, were presented with the AMA President's Award in a ceremony at the AMA National Conference in Sydney in recognition of the outstanding contribution they have made to the AMA and the broader medical profession through years of dedicated service.

Dr Hambleton said both Dr Morton and Dr Ford were dedicated and tireless doctors who championed the interests of their patients and medical colleagues, and had made an enormous contribution to advancing the objectives of the AMA.

AMA to work with Government on Mason review recommendations

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek released details of the Review of Australian Government Health Workforce Programs, chaired by Jennifer Mason, at the AMA National Conference. Dr Hambleton said the AMA will look closely at the key recommendations of the review and looks forward to working with the Government to improve health workforce programs, especially those that affect rural communities.

The Government has commendably already moved to adopt two key recommendations. The first is the decision to overhaul the discredited ASGC-RA classification system in order to better target rural workforce incentives and deliver better outcomes for patients in rural and regional communities. The second is the commitment to a new rural training pathway for medical graduates that has the potential to improve recruitment and retention in rural areas as well as expand critical medical training opportunities.

"The AMA played a leadership role in this review, making an extensive submission and meeting on several occasions with the review panel," Dr Hambleton said.

Click here to view the media release.

AMA Medical Home survey

You may have started to hear the term "medical home" or "patient-centred medical home (PCMH)" being talked about in relation to general practice. There is emerging evidence to indicate that the PCMH has been effective in improving patient care in a number of overseas countries and growing interest from the Government in the concept.

The AMA wants to know what you think about the "medical home" and its application to general practice in Australia.

For more background on the concept and to access the short survey, click here.

Myths and realities about immunisation revealed in new booklet

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has launched the latest edition of the Immunisation Myths and Realities booklet, which will provide practitioners and parents with the latest scientific information on immunisation.

Ms Plibersek said the booklet responds to some of the common myths and concerns that health professionals encounter when discussing vaccinations with parents or patients.

To view the Immunisation Myths and Realities booklet see the Immunise Australia Program website

MBS Billing Accuracy survey

The AMA, as a member of the Department of Human Services (DHS) Compliance Working Group, has been involved in the development of a survey to gain input from health practitioners and practice managers about their MBS billing procedures and to identify and quantify any common issues. The survey results will be used to inform the development of new compliance approaches that may be trialled during 2013-2014. The department has commissioned the independent market research company instinct and reason to conduct the survey and no information that identifies individual respondents will be provided back to the department.

To contribute to the development of new compliance approaches click here. The survey takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions regarding the research you can contact Rob Mercer at instinct and reason (email, phone 0410 866 642 or office switch on 02 9283 2233). Should you wish to confirm the origin of this research directly with the DHS you can contact the Large Practices Project Trial team (email

Follow AMA General Practice on Twitter

The AMA has launched a Twitter Account for AMA General Practice and we invite you to follow us and join the conversation.

Follow @amagenpractice on Twitter now. Please pass this on to your GP colleagues and anyone you think would be interested.

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