GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 41

17 Oct 2013

Dr Steve Hambleton, AMA President

MBS indexation freeze will hit patients’ hip pockets

The AMA has finalised the AMA List of Medical Services and Fees 2013, which provides guidance to AMA members in setting their fees based on their own practice cost experience.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said this week that Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) patient rebates continue to lag behind the real cost of providing quality patient care, but this year patient out-of-pocket costs will be higher because of the previous Government’s Budget decision to freeze MBS indexation from 1 November 2013 to 1 July 2014.

This decision has denied patients $664.3 million in rebates for their GP visits and private surgery. As a result of the freeze, the MBS patient rebate for a standard Level B GP consultation will remain at the current level of $36.30 until 1 July next year. The new AMA fee for a standard Level B GP consultation is $73, up from $71 in 2012.

Dr Hambleton said there is a long history of MBS indexation lagging well behind the contemporary costs of providing medical care, which has caused a significant difference between the AMA fees and MBS fees today and this difference will be greater because of the freeze.

This year, AMA fees have been indexed, on average, by 2.93 per cent. This compares with the Labour Price Index of 3.19 per cent and Consumer Price Index of 2.40 per cent. The AMA indexation places significant weight on increases in the Labour Price Index because of the high labour component in providing medical services.

Full media release.

Listen to Dr Hambleton discussing the increasing gap in medical costs and the Medicare rebate with 3AW Melbourne.

AMA calls for mental health promotion in the workplace

Dr Hambleton, said last week on World Mental Health Day that the AMA encourages workplaces, employers, and employees to work cooperatively to develop positive working environments that support workers with mental illnesses and promote good mental health for all workers.

Dr Hambleton noted that the medical profession also needs to do more to provide supportive workplaces for doctors and medical students, particularly in light of the recent beyondblue report that highlighted the need to better support doctors and address mental health and over-work issues.

The AMA has made the health and welfare of doctors a priority. We have for some time had strong links to existing doctors’ health services. The State AMAs provide financial and in-kind support for doctors’ health advisory services in a number of States and Territories.

A range of useful resources and information for members on doctors’ health and wellbeing is available on the AMA website.

Full media release.

UGPA calls on Government to urgently address clinical utility of PCEHR

United General Practice Australia has called on the Government to heed concerns raised by GPs regarding the significant clinical utility issues associated with the Personally Controlled eHealth Record (PCEHR) system and address them as an urgent priority.

UGPA is calling for the implementation of the PCEHR to be profession-led and include:

  • GP input at every level of the PCEHR development life cycle, including planning through to implementation;
  • ensuring the system is clinically safe, usable and fit for purpose;
  • support by an acceptable, and robust legal and privacy framework;
  • secure messaging interoperability as a critical dependency priority.

The Government has announced it will review implementation of the PCEHR and UGPA looks forward to contributing its clinical voice and concerns to the review.

UGPA media release.

AMA List of Medical Services and Fees - 1 November 2013

The AMA List of Medical Services and Fees (AMA List), effective 1 November 2013, has been distributed.

To access this part of the website simply log in and follow these steps:

  1. Once you have entered your login details, hover over Resources at the top of the page.
  2. A drop down box will appear, select AMA Fees List.
  3. Then select 1. AMA List of Medical Services and Fees - 1 November 2013.
  4. You can then download the CSV (for importing into practice software) and PDF (for viewing) versions of the AMA List.

The Fees Indexation Calculator is also available for members to calculate their own fee increase based on their individual cost profile.

The AMA Fees List Online where members can view, print or download individual items or groups of items to suit their needs, will be updated as at 1 November 2013.

AMA members can also access the AMA List of Medical Services and Fees and other relevant tools via the GP Desktop Practice Support Toolkit.

GP advice for rotavirus vaccination

The National Prescribing Service reports that an investigation into the use of rotavirus vaccines (RotaTeq and Rotarix) in Australia has identified with both vaccines a small elevated risk of intussusception, especially after the first dose. However, a risk–benefit analysis concluded that the benefit of protection from rotavirus infection far outweighs this risk.

The NPS advises GPs to counsel parents and carers on the risk of intussusception after each dose of rotavirus vaccine, and to advise them that the benefits outweigh the risk but to be alert for symptoms and seek medical assistance in suspected cases. The NPS also advises GPs to delay giving rotavirus vaccination to children with moderate to severe gastroenteritis or acute febrile illness until the infant is well.

More information is available on the NPS website.

Revised Guidelines for the Treatment of ASD and PTSD

Five to ten percent of people will suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. The Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, developed by the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, provide recommendations for identifying and assessing PTSD as well as information about the most effective treatments for PTSD. Approved by the NHMRC, they are the first national guidelines that include guidance on the treatment of children and teenagers.

More information.

Being a primary care provider - WHO and WONCA call for comments

The World Health Organisation and the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) are calling for GPs to complete a survey about their experiences, both positive and negative, in providing primary health care services. They would like to hear from all types of primary care providers in developed, transitional and developing countries, as well as from countries in post conflict or post natural disaster situations.

Responses will be used to inform and potentially be published as narrative stories in the WHO’s strategy on High Quality, Integrated People-centred Services and may be used for future WHO or WONCA publications. The survey closes Friday 8 November 2013.

Have your say and participate in the survey.

October BEACH Publications

The BEACH program released several new publications this month:


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


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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