GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 26

5 Jul 2013

Dr Brian Morton, Chair AMACGP

AMC seeks AMA view on RACGP’s accreditation

The Australian Medical Council has written to the AMA seeking comment on the education and training pathways and continuing professional development programs in general practice, provided by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

The AMA’s Council of General Practice is currently considering a range of questions posed by the AMC in relation to opportunity to contribute to the development and evaluation of training programs, what gaps in training there might be, and suggestions for improvement. The AMA Council of Doctors in Training is considering issues regarding training pathways, curriculum content, teaching methods utilised and educational resources available.

To assist the AMA in preparing its response we would welcome your thoughts on the matter. Email us at

Red tape reduction - Budget measure you may have missed

Following AMA’s advocacy on red tape reduction and problems experienced by GPs and specialists using the Pay Doctor Cheque Scheme, the AMA notes that from 1 July 2014, cheques will be replaced with direct EFT payments to the doctor's account. This is welcome news to these doctors as it will further streamline their payment processes. Currently if cheques are not banked in 90 days, the payment is automatically made to the doctors nominated bank account. Once this budget measure is implemented doctors will be paid in half the time and it will help reduce doctors expenses in chasing up unpaid accounts and write-offs due to occasions where cheques were banked in error rather than forwarded on to the doctor.

AMA President to speak at National Press Club

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, will speak at the National Press Club on 17 July, as part of the AMA’s celebration of Family Doctor Week. Dr Hambleton’s speech will highlight the most important national health issues, as he launches the AMA’s 2013 Federal Election document.

Book your tickets.

Australian Medicine

The 1 July edition of Australian Medicine, the national news publication of the AMA, is now available. This edition includes the latest developments in the Scrap the Cap campaign to abolish the $2000 cap on tax deductions for self-education expenses, as well as the wash up of a tumultuous couple of weeks in federal politics. More than 40 pages of medical news, views and analysis can be viewed online, or downloaded.

Latest update: over 8600 doctors have signed the Scrap the Cap petition – have you?

Three new immunisation requirements for government payments

As of 1 July 2013, child immunisation requirements to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement and Australian Government childcare payments have been expanded to include the meningococcal C, pneumococcal and varicella vaccines. The varicella vaccine will be included in a new combination shot (MMRV), given at 18 months.

The list of diseases a child must be immunised against in order to be up-to-date with immunisation can be found here on the Department of Human Services website.

Use of HPOS growing but awareness could be improved

Data recently presented to the AMA as a member of the HPOS Sub-committee shows that use of the Department of Human Services' Health Professional Online Service (HPOS) is growing but that overall awareness of the service amongst practitioners could be improved.

GPs and practice managers are reminded that HPOS provides a single entry point for a wide range of services. Logging on with a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) individual certificate gives access to the full range of information and services available through HPOS, including Patient Verification, Medicare services including Easyclaim processing and payment reports, DVA CVC Patient Treatment Reports, Healthcare Identifiers, the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register, Prescription Shopping Information Program, Practice Incentive Programs registration and many other facilities.

In March this year the MBS Online Checker was enhanced with the addition of 90 more MBS items. This service supports health professionals when submitting Medicare claims by allowing them to see if a restricted item has already been claimed, reducing rejected claims.

Also since March 2013, health professionals have been able to register for the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record through HPOS.

Find out more about HPOS services.

Do your patients have questions about the PCEHR?

GPs and practice managers are advised that enquiries from their patients about the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) can be directed to the government enquiry line 1800 723 471 or the website.

Feedback and complaints about PCEHR can be directed to the Department of Human Services Customer Information Feedback and Complaints line on 1800 132 468.

Participation in the PCEHR system is not mandatory for patients or doctors. If participation in PCEHR or cost issues arise, patients can be advised that:

  • there is no cost for patients to register for an eHealth record;
  • however, participation involves additional costs and staff resources for medical practices. Practices must also sign up to complex Government requirements with substantial penalties for non-compliance. Creating information for their eHealth record, such as a shared health summary covering their allergies, adverse reactions, current medications and a history of their medical conditions, will involve some time and effort for their doctor and general practice, which may involve a charge.
  • the financial incentives provided by Government are not matched to the costs that general practices actually incur.  Most practices have not been given specific training and support to become PCEHR-ready and able to provide PCEHR services.

Government report on dementia – Thinking Ahead

On Monday 24 June 2013, the Standing Committee on Health and Ageing tabled its report on the Inquiry into Dementia: Early Diagnosis and Intervention, entitled Thinking Ahead. The inquiry was undertaken to help plan for the projected tripling in the number of Australians living with dementia, to around 900,000, by 2050.

Among the 17 recommendations, the report calls for a national evidence-based dementia training program for GPs, to improve the country’s rates of early diagnosis and intervention. The report also recommends a review of MBS items, the introduction of practice guidelines for dementia care in primary settings, the establishment of clear and streamlined local referral pathways for dementia diagnosis, treatment and support, and a public awareness campaign.

Latest update on Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus

The very latest information and advice regarding the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERs) coronavirus is online.

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Professionals Life Cover Plus is issued by OnePath Life Limited (OnePath Life) (ABN 33 009 657 176, AFSL 238341). The information provided is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal needs and financial circumstances. You should consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. You should read the Professionals Life Cover Plus Product Disclosure Statement and Policy (PDS) which is also available by calling 1800 658 679 and consider whether this product is right for you. OnePath Life will receive premiums for any insurance cover you obtain from us. Employees and directors receive a salary. They do not receive commissions, however, they may be eligible for performance related bonuses and other staff related benefits.

OnePath Life is committed to providing the AMA and its members with the highest level of support, including a financial contribution, towards the AMA’s activities and programs.

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