GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 27

12 Jul 2013

Dr Brian Morton, Chair AMACGP

AMA backs tax cap inquiry

The AMA welcomes a move by the Australian Greens to launch a full Senate inquiry into the Federal Government’s $2000 cap on tax deductions for work-related self-education expenses, amid mounting pressure for the measure to be dumped.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said the tax cap was poorly conceived, and a Senate inquiry would highlight just how harmful and counter-productive it would be.

Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said on Monday that her party has major concerns about the tax cap and will move to send any proposed legislation to a full Senate inquiry. Senator Milne’s announcement came just hours after the AMA and 21 other peak professional organisations met in Canberra and issued a united call for the tax cap to be scrapped.

"This policy is a double dose of dumbness," Dr Hambleton said.

So far, more than 11,800 doctors and other professionals have signed up to the #Scrap the Cap campaign to lobby both the Government and the Opposition to overturn their support for the tax change.

Full media release.

Peak professional bodies unite to oppose tax on learning

A broad range of peak professional bodies, including the AMA, have joined together to call on the Federal Government to abandon the proposal to cap tax deductions for work related self-education expenses at $2,000, a measure that effectively imposes a tax on learning.

The Government has not made the case for change and it has ignored the importance of self-education and mandatory continuing professional development for the safety and quality of services in key sectors such as health care delivery as well as for Australia’s economic future.

Nurses, doctors, dentists, engineers, veterinarians, universities, accountants, postgraduate students, architects, pharmacists, lawyers, directors and many services professionals all came together this week to speak with one voice in a bid to prevent this budget measure from undermining service standards and hurting productivity and innovation.

The cap will discourage many people from progressing professional careers and will also compromise the availability of quality continuing professional development courses.

Full media release.

AMA President to spell out health policy priorities at the National Press Club

Dr Hambleton will address the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday, 17 July 2013, highlighting the policies and pledges that the AMA believes the Government, the Coalition, and other parties must commit to and deliver if Australians are to continue to enjoy affordable access to high quality health services into the future.

The AMA will release its document - Key Health Issues for the 2013 Federal Election – at the National Press Club event.

Book a seat or a group table at the National Press Club for Dr Hambleton’s address.

Next week is AMA Family Doctor Week

AMA Family Doctor Week is the AMA’s annual celebration of the hard work and dedication of the nation’s family doctors – the GPs who serve local communities in the cities, country towns and remote areas of Australia.

Last year more than 29,000 GPs provided over 129 million services across Australia.

This year’s theme for Family Doctor Week is: Your Family Doctor – Your Medical Home.

In keeping with this year’s theme, the AMA will be releasing two videos showcasing some of the difficulties family doctors encounter on a daily basis, including:

  • keeping skills and knowledge up to date;
  • training future family doctors;
  • caring for older patients; and
  • dealing with red tape.

Dr Hambleton said that the family doctor is, and must remain, the foundation of the health system, but warned that they are under continuing pressure meeting increased demands for care, with stalled Medicare rebates and increased red tape.

Each day during Family Doctor Week the AMA will highlight ways the Government can provide greater support for family doctors to allow them to continue serving their local communities.

More information.

Maintenance of Vocational Recognition for GPs

To clarify the item in GP Network News No 25, 28 June 2013, GPs are advised that they are also able to undertake their continuing medical education and quality assurance activities through the Professional Development Program (PDP) of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) for the purpose of maintaining their Vocational Registration.

At the completion of the triennium, ACRRM member compliance will be reported to Medicare via the RACGP. This meets the requirements of the Health Insurance (Vocational Registration of General Practitioners) Regulations 1989, the Health Insurance Regulations 1975 and the subsequent legislative requirements.

Other College members are also welcome to register as a member with ACRRM and enroll in PDP to assist with training, continuing education and quality assurance.

Full details.

TGA Rescheduling of benzodiazepine – alprazolam

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has rescheduled the benzodiazepine medicine ‘alprazolam’ from Schedule 4 to Schedule 8, commencing 1 February 2014.

In response to the TGA’s announcement last year that it was considering rescheduling all benzodiazepines from Schedule 4 to Schedule 8, the AMA made a submission in January urging a careful assessment of the balance between the potential for abuse and the need for availability and access in the event of urgent clinical need, such as in hospitals.

The AMA noted that the administrative burden, for both hospital staff and general practitioners, of all benzodiazepines moving to Schedule 8 would be significant. It advocated alternative mechanisms to control abuse of these medicines, such as patient and medical practitioner education, electronic tracking of dispensing, auditing of prescribing, and prosecutions.

After reviewing public submissions and consulting with State and Territories, the TGA has now announced that it will reschedule only alprazolam from Schedule 4 to Schedule 8. The scheduling of all other benzodiazepines will remain unchanged.

The TGA advised that the reasons for rescheduling alprazolam related to its increased morbidity and mortality in overdose due to possible increased toxicity, and the rapid increase in its use compared to other benzodiazepines as well as evidence of widespread misuse.

MJA looks at Indigenous health

This week’s Medical Journal of Australia has a focus on Indigenous health and was published on 8 July to coincide with NAIDOC Week (7–14 July). A feature article in this edition, titled On Australia’s doorstep: gold, rape, and injustice, reports on sexual violence, health, and environmental concerns at a Canadian-owned gold mine in Papua New Guinea. Other articles in this issue include a discussion about the development of a new National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, swimming and ear infections, fruit and vegetables, and child health stress and Indigenous children.

Read these articles and more

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus

For the 11 July 2013 situation update click here.

Australian Smoking Cessation Conference: 6 - 8 November 2013

Associate Professor Renee Bittoun from the Smoking Research Unit invites tobacco treatment specialists, medical professionals, health workers and others with an interest in the field to attend the Australian Smoking Cessation Conference 2013, 6 - 8 November.

At this conference, you will have the opportunity to:

  1. Focus on clinical practice in smoking cessation, sharing knowledge gained from it and passing on knowledge to help improve it
  2. Translate the current evidence-based science on nicotine addiction and treatment into clinical practice Gain professional development in smoking cessation methodology
  3. Learn about smoking cessation projects from around the nation
  4. Network with like-minded professionals

Find out more


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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