GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 3

25 Jan 2013

Practice nurse pay claim

More hearings were held before the Fair Work Commission (FWC) this week as the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) continues to push its claims for a multi employer collective agreement to cover around 800 general practices that have been hit with a log of claims by the ANF.

The AMA is taking the lead role in defending general practices against the ANF claim, which effectively seeks to impose public sector conditions on named practices. Many AMA members have assisted the AMA in the case, agreeing to appear as witnesses before the FWC. The AMA greatly appreciates this support.

At the time of writing, it was expected that hearings would conclude this week. A decision in the matter is expected in coming months.

Overall Medical Workforce Growing, but General Practice Workforce Shrinking

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said this week that the Medical Workforce 2011 report shows encouraging signs of growth in Australia’s overall medical workforce, but a relative decline in the supply of general practitioners raises serious concerns about patient access to quality primary care.

The report shows the number of GPs falling from 111.9 to 109.7 full time equivalent per 100,000 population between 2007 and 2011.

“The AMA has called for further investment in general practice, including an increase in the first year intake to the GP training program to 1500 a year (currently 1100) by 2016, to help build the GP workforce to sufficient numbers to meet community need,” Dr Hambleton said.

The report also shows that there was a 17 per cent increase in the number of doctors between 2007 and 2011 and there was also an increase in the supply of doctors working in rural and remote areas, but the rural medical workforce is still lagging well behind the metropolitan workforce.

Click here for full press release.

AMA Federal Budget Submission 2013-14

The AMA has called on the Federal Government to support general practice in a number of ways in its latest Federal Budget Submission. These include:

  • Increase the Practice Incentive Payment for teaching medical students to $200 per teaching session so that it better reflects the costs to general practice of teaching medical students;
  • Increase the number of places in the Prevocational GP Placements Program to 1500 places a year by 2016, supporting more junior doctors to have a quality general practice experience;
  • Increase the GP training program intake to 1500 places a year by 2016;
  • Improve Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) rebates and streamlined MBS arrangements to improve access for patients with mental illness to their GP or psychiatrist;
  • Higher MBS rebates for services that reflect the time and complexity of providing ongoing medical and dementia care to older people living in aged care facilities and in the community;
  • Additional funding to encourage and subsidise arrangements between aged care providers and medical practitioners to ensure ongoing access to medical care in residential aged care;
  • Introduce MBS rebates specifically for the medical care provided to people at the end of their lives;
  • Extend MBS telehealth items to GP consultations for remote Indigenous Australians, aged care residents, people with mobility problems, and rural people who live some distance from GPs;
  • Develop a broad coordinated care program to tackle chronic and complex diseases based on the model of care and funding arrangements developed for the Department of Veterans Affairs Coordinated Veterans Care Program;
  • Provide an additional 600 GP infrastructure grants at current funding levels (on average, approximately $300,000 each) enabling a third round of GP infrastructure grants;
  • Support GPs and GP practices to participate in the PCEHR by providing a single set of adaptable standardised template policies and protocols detailing what is required to participate in the PCEHR;
  • Provide a standardised step-by-step toolkit to streamline the processes that practices have to put in place to meet the administrative and technological requirements of the PCEHR; and
  • Remove the PBS Authority system.

Click here to view the AMA Federal Budget Submission 2013-14.

Click here to view the press release.

The Need to Screen – for Bowel Cancer

Although nearly one third of first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients have never been screened for the disease, a doctor’s recommendation to screen has a powerful motivating effect on CRC screening uptake, a recent study, by Ryan J Courtney et al, published in BMC Cancer, has found.

Next month, a health promotion campaign aimed at reducing the number of deaths caused by bowel cancer, FOBruary, will call on all Australians over the age of 50 to have an annual Faecal Occult Blood test (FOB test) to screen for bowel cancer. FOBruary is a collaboration between Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer (a Cabrini initiative) and Bowel Cancer Australia. GPs are urged to encourage relevant patients to have a FOB test.

Click here to read the study of colorectal cancer screening practices of first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients.

We welcome your comments and suggestions as well. Please tell us what you think.

Pick up a free day on Hertz

Until 31 March, rent a car for 5 days or more with Hertz and you'll only pay for 4. That’s on top of all the usual benefits you’d expect with your Hertz rental, including your usual AMA discount. To book go to the Hertz website and quote CDP Number 283826 and Promotion Code 178684, or call Hertz Reservations on 13 30 39.*

* Terms and conditions apply. offer is available at participating domestic locations on SDPET Standard, Full Size, Premium Full Size, Wagons and 8 Seaters. Minimum rental period of 5 consecutive days, maximum 1 free day per rental. One free day is applied to daily rate and applicable GST and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Hertz standard terms, conditions and credit qualifications apply.

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