GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 39

3 Oct 2013

Dr Steve Hambleton, AMA President

Grattan Institute report offers poorer quality health care to rural Australians

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said this week that the rural health plan enunciated by Dr Stephen Duckett in the Grattan Institute report, Access all areas: new solutions for GP shortages in rural Australia, could result in rural Australians being consigned to poorer quality health care than the rest of the population.

Dr Duckett’s proposals include having pharmacists take over some of the roles currently performed by GPs.

Dr Hambleton said that rural Australians should have access to the same high quality primary care as the rest of the population.

“GPs are highly trained and skilled, they provide holistic care for their patients, and are uniquely placed to look after people throughout life, from birth to old age. The key to improving access to primary care for rural Australians is to provide greater support for GPs, not undermine them or have alternative health practitioners take over their specialised role.

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA has safer and more practical solutions to improve GP access for rural Australians.

In order to attract a medical workforce in adequate numbers and with the right skill mix to meet the primary health care needs of rural Australia, the AMA is calling on the new Government to:

  • provide a dedicated quality training pathway with the right skill mix to ensure GPs are adequately trained to work in rural areas, and by developing and implementing, in consultation with the AMA and specialist colleges, a new funding program to support and encourage more ‘generalist’ training;
  • provide financial incentives to ensure competitive remuneration for rural doctors by implementing the AMA/RDAA Rural Rescue Package, which would provide further enhancements to rural isolation payments and rural procedural and emergency/on-call loadings;
  • extend the MBS video consultation items to GP consultations for remote Indigenous Australians, aged care residents, people with mobility problems, and rural people who live some distance from GPs. This will considerably improve access to medical care for these groups and improve health outcomes;
  • replace the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC-RA) and the Districts of Workforce Shortage (DWS) system, which are so inequitable for many rural areas, with a more comprehensive model that provides a more accurate picture of workforce conditions for administering relocation payments, and providing incentive and retention payments; and
  • improve the effectiveness of the Bonded Medical Places Scheme by providing more flexibility for Bonded Medical Graduates to allow them to complete return of service obligations in any rural area, not just a DWS.

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA believes pharmacists have a very important role to play in rural health – being pharmacists.

The AMA is in early discussions with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia on a possible model for integrating pharmacists into general practice as part of the GP-led multidisciplinary team.

Full media release.

AMACGP Chair comments on Pharmacists taking over GP roles

Dr Brian Morton, Chair - AMA Council of General Practice, spoke to Prime 7 during a report on the Grattan Institute's proposed solutions to rural GP shortages. Watch video.

Are you up to date with CPD?

It’s time to check your progress in meeting the 2011-13 triennium requirements for the RACGP Quality Improvement and Continuing Professional Development Program, which ends on 31 December 2013. To help you keep track of your CPD, the AMA offers an online CPD Tracking service to all medical professionals.

The AMA's CPD Tracking service allows you to keep records of your CPD activities in one place. AMA members can access this service any time, for free, by logging in through the CPD website using their AMA member logon and password. Non-members are able to purchase a subscription to this service.

As AHPRA and the Medical Board of Australia will be commencing their CPD audit program next year, now is a good time to start using the AMA CPD Tracker.

Practice Nurse Incentive Program – Quick Poll

Two weeks ago in GPNN we asked you to tell us your views about how the Practice Nurse Incentive Program (PNIP) was working in your practice. This request was made following comments we had received from members about how some practices have been disadvantaged by the funding formula under the PNIP and that the loss of nurse item numbers has adversely affected the viability of nurse immunisation and wound care, particularly in rural and regional general practice. The responses we received were mixed and we thank those readers who provided comments.

The AMA has now developed a quick poll to better ascertain the impact of PNIP across general practice. We invite those participating in the PNIP to take a moment to participate in the poll on the right side of this page.

AGPAL General Practice Awards

The AMA is committed to supporting medical professionals in the high quality delivery of health care and is proud to be a sponsor of the AGPAL Rural and Remote General Practice of the Year Award. We heartily congratulate this year’s winner, Apunipima Mossman Gorge Primary Health Clinic, Queensland. Congratulations also go to Sarina Medical Clinic, also of Queensland, which was Highly Commended.

The AMA recognises the contribution of the nominees for this award and the commitment to quality improvement of all award category winners, which were announced at the AGPAL International Health Care Conference, at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre last Friday.

Cardiovascular risk assessment in general practice

The Medical Journal of Australia has released an Online First Publication related to general practitioners’ views, experiences and extent of use of absolute risk assessment — currently recommended in guidelines — to assess patients’ risk of cardiovascular disease and guide the use of preventive medication.

General practitioners’ use of different cardiovascular risk assessment strategies: a qualitative study.

Corporatised Practice – what you need to know

Considering closing down your practice and moving into a corporate? Does a corporate want to buy your practice? Before you make a move you need to read the AMA’s Corporatisation of Medical Practice - Decision Support Kit for Doctors. This covers many of the issues you need to consider when making the decision and tells you what a corporate is, what matters you need to think about in closing your existing practice, what will life be like working for a corporate and maybe afterwards.

You can also access the Decision Support Kit for Doctors via the link provided in the AMA GP Desktop Practice Toolkit.

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