GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 4

1 Feb 2013

Federal Election date set

The Prime Minister Gillard has announced that the Federal Election is to be held on 14 September 2013. In the lead up to the election the AMA will be reviewing and commenting on the policies of both parties. The AMA is preparing a key health issues document for this Federal Election for release in the coming months.

Australian not prepared for health impacts of extreme weather events

The AMA has recently presented a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications, which is examining trends in, and preparedness for, extreme weather events. In its submission, the AMA highlights fundamental gaps in Australia’s ability to minimise and react to effects on health of extreme weather events, including:

  • the lack of a nationally coordinated approach, particularly the absence of a consistent framework that links health databases with real-time monitoring and assessment of weather, climate and geographic data;
  • a limited understanding of the scope and scale of health implications;little investment in preventive measures and long-term planning;
  • a lack of supporting regulations, legislation, standards and codes; and
  • a failure to sufficiently engage health professionals and the health sector in planning and preparation for extreme weather events.

AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, said that the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events means it is vital to address major shortcomings in current arrangements and to develop a national coordinated strategy to ensure health services can be rapidly mobilised and effectively targeted during extreme weather events.

Click here to view the press release.

The National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students

In mid-February, around half of Australia’s 80,000 medical practitioners and 16,000 medical students will receive a questionnaire as part of beyondblue’s National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students.

The world-first survey is completely anonymous and will offer an unprecedented insight into the wellbeing of the nation’s current and future doctors and identify ways to improve it. beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said it was the first time such a large portion of the profession in one country will be surveyed on their mental health.

She said every doctor and medical student who completed the questionnaire would help capture a better picture of the medical profession’s wellbeing.

“This survey will show how Australian doctors cope in their jobs and offer invaluable insights into how we can support their critical work,” she said.

For further information about the survey visit

Chronic Disease Items – Time for a Rethink?

In Australian Medicine this week, Dr Brian Morton, Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice, looks at the limitations and difficulties of current Medicare funded chronic disease management (CDM) arrangements and how the AMA’s newly revised chronic disease plan has got the Government thinking about a new approach to CDM items.

The AMA is participating in a Department of Health and Ageing review of the Chronic Disease items to be conducted from February to April 2013. The review is an opportunity to implement AMA policies and in particular to reduce red tape and direct rebates to encourage better clinical care. The AMA is consulting with the RACGP on these matters.

Click here to view Dr Morton’s article.

Killer flu season predicted

With the summer drawing to a close, GPs are urged to encourage vulnerable patients to get a flu vaccination this year. Experts predict Australia is in for a killer flu season after more than 20 children have died in the United States from the H2N3 strain of the virus. There have been five times as many cases reported in New York as there were in the entire flu season last year, and it is yet unclear if the season has peaked.

The flu vaccine will be available in Australia in March and will protect against Influenza A (H2N3), Influenza B, and swine flu.

Click here to view the report in Australian Medicine.

AMA Resources for Medical Fees

The AMA encourages medical practitioners to determine their own fees based on their own practice costs. To guide medical practitioners in determining their fees and to assist those considering moving from bulk billing to patient billing, the AMA provides members with tools and resources, which are available at

There is a checklist for those medical practitioners who have decided to move from bulk billing to patient billing and a template letter to explain to their patients why their fee is different to the Medicare rebate.

The AMA Gaps Poster illustrates why patients might have to pay a gap. The poster shows the effect of the difference between the indexation of Medicare Schedule fees and the Consumer Price Index and average weekly earnings. To download an A4 size poster that you may print, please click here or you can order a colour A3 size poster by emailing or calling on (02) 6270 5400.

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