GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 42

24 Oct 2013

Dr Brian Morton, Chair AMACGP

Non-contact care costs GPs $15,000

The Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) program has found that GPs are losing around $15,000 per year through time spent on non-contact care. BEACH data shows that, on average, GPs are spending 2.5 hours a week in non-face-to-face patient care and that the likelihood of spending non-billable time on patient care increases with patient age and with the management of chronic problems.

The AMA is pleased to see this data emerging, which is a direct result of our efforts to convince BEACH to collect data on the non-billable time that GPs spend on patient care for its report on General Practice Activity in Australia. There is a need, which BEACH is now fulfilling, for valid data that provides a reliable measure of the non-contact time that GPs spend on patient care. These findings point to the need for Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items that better recognise the work undertaken by GPs in caring for their patients.

AMA calls for Parliamentary Inquiry into alcohol advertising and promotion

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said this week that research released by The Salvation Army adds weight to the AMA's call for a Parliamentary Inquiry into alcohol advertising and promotion and the ways that it targets young people. The Roy Morgan research shows there is significant community concern about the strong links between alcohol and sport, and that many people believe that alcohol advertising is encouraging young people to drink more.

"There is strong evidence that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising, the earlier they start drinking, the more they drink, and the more alcohol-related harm they experience," Dr Hambleton said.

He added that industry self-regulation is clearly not working and that as a first step in breaking the link between alcohol and sport, the current exemption permitting alcohol advertising during live sporting broadcasts before 8:30pm on commercial free-to-air television should be removed.

Full media release

AMA President talks to 2GB about alcohol advertising

This week on radio 2GB Sydney Dr Steve Hambleton discussed alcohol advertising and promotion.

Listen to the interview

Junior doctors and medical students urge action on national medical training plan

The AMA Council of Doctors in Training (AMACDT) is urging Australian Health Ministers to agree to start work on a new national medical training plan when they meet in November. The proposed national plan was one of the major topics discussed by junior doctors and medical students when the AMACDT met in Canberra last weekend.

AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, said that all Australian governments are struggling to provide sufficient prevocational and specialist training places to match the very significant growth in medical school places since 2004. He added that the Health Workforce Australia (HWA) Health Workforce 2025 report last year warned that Australia needed to increase prevocational and specialist training places, as well as improve medical workforce planning and coordination, if the medical workforce is to meet future community need.

The AMA and the AMACDT support HWA proposals to establish the National Medical Training Advisory Network (NMTAN) and develop five-year national medical training plans and urge all governments to adopt both proposals at next month's Health Ministers' meeting.

Full media release.

Labor keeps experience in the shadow health portfolio

The AMA has congratulated Catherine King on her appointment as Shadow Minister for Health and acknowledged her valuable experience in the portfolio, having served as Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing in Government between 2010 and 2013.

"The AMA worked closely with Catherine in her former role and we look forward to building on this established relationship to help shape policies that will deliver better health services to the Australian people," AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said.

"The health sector is fortunate to have a former Health Minister as Prime Minister, a passionate advocate for the National Disability Insurance Scheme as Opposition Leader, and another former Health Minister as Deputy Opposition Leader.

"The AMA hopes that all this valuable health policy experience in the new Parliament works in a bipartisan way to produce better health outcomes in the Australian community," Dr Hambleton said.

Full media release.

GPs and sexual harassment - observing the boundaries

AMA Council of General Practice Chair, Dr Brian Morton talks this week in his Australian Medicine article about how sexual harassment by patients is experienced across our profession. He highlights the need for policies and procedures to prevent it and the importance of GPs being provided with the necessary training and skills to deal with such situations.

Read Dr Morton's article

UK GPs prefer their independence

UK media website, Pulse, recently surveyed 523 GPs regarding their opinions of the suggestion by the outgoing chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Clare Gerada, that general practice be a salaried profession. The survey found that 76% do not believe GPs should give up their independent contractor status and become salaried to the National Health Service.

Read the Pulse article.

New AMA Fees List Issued

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.

MERS Coronavirus situation update

As of 14 October 2013, the WHO had received reports of 138 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV, including 60 deaths, with a case fatality rate of 43%. As of 14 October 2013, at least 55% of confirmed cases had underlying conditions that may have made them more susceptible to respiratory conditions, in some cases, multiple underlying conditions. GPs should note the 2 week incubation period for MERS-Cov and be aware of the possibility of cases in travellers returning from the Hajj in Saudi Arabia which ends on 18 October 2013.

Situation updates are provided by the Department of Health every fortnight - latest update.

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