GP Network News, Issue 13 Number 5

8 Feb 2013

Closing the Gap Agreement Should be Renewed

The AMA calls on the Federal, State and Territory governments to renew their commitment to the COAG National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap, which expires later this year, as a key step in addressing health inequalities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said the Closing the Gap Prime Ministers Report 2013 released this week outlines the improvements that are being made to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, particularly through the COAG National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap, but there is still more to be done if health equality is to be achieved within a generation.

“A National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health plan, which is key to closing the life expectancy gap, is currently being developed and COAG should make a long term funding commitment to it”, Dr Hambleton said.

Click here to view the full press release.

Urgent Action Needed to Curb Problem Gambling Among Young People

In a Position Statement, The Health Effects of Problem Gambling, released this week, the AMA warns that problem gambling has become a significant public health issue, and could exact an increasingly heavy toll on health, family relationships, community safety and productivity unless urgent action is taken to regulate existing gaming activities and curb the growth of online and interactive gaming.

Dr Steve Hambleton, said young people, in particular, were at heightened risk of developing problems with gambling, and there needed to be a comprehensive and coordinated response from all levels of government to tackle the problem.

In the Position Statement, the AMA calls for the Federal Government to work closely with its State and Territory counterparts to establish an independent national gambling regulator to oversee the industry and ensure consumers are adequately protected. It also wants the Commonwealth to provide incentives to encourage the states and territories to reduce their reliance on gambling revenue.

Click here for full press release.

The AMA Position Statement on The Health Effects of Problem Gambling 2012 is available here.

Mandatory Eye Checks for Health Assessments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adults and Older People

GPs are advised of changes to MBS Item 715 (health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) that are scheduled to take effect from 1 May 2013.

Currently Item 715 encompasses three separate health assessments: a child's health assessment for people aged 0-14, an adult health assessment for people aged 15-54, and an older person's health assessment for people aged 55 and over.

From 1 May 2013, the adult and older person's health assessments will be amended to include taking a history of a patient's eye health and conducting an examination of a patient's vision. This change will align the adult and older person’s health assessments with the requirements of the child health assessment, which already includes eye history and examination as mandatory. The amendments will be outlined in Explanatory Notes A35 and A36 of the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

No eligibility criteria will be changed for the provision of these health assessments, which will continue to be provided by all medical practitioners other than specialists and consultants.

To view the MBS Explanatory Notes, MBS Online can be accessed via the link provided in the AMA GP Desktop Practice Support Toolkit.

DVA Mental Health Services

GPs are reminded about the services available from the Veterans and Veterans Families Counseling Service (VVCS), which offers a range of group programs for Veterans and their families, including the Heart Health Program, and other programs which address issues such as anger, depression, anxiety or insomnia.

DVA also publishes VVCS articles and information through its Practice Managers Circular, which is distributed twice a year and contains information to assist practice managers to interact with the veteran community, and provides advice on DVA administrative processes.

Medical practitioners, other health and welfare workers and ex-service organisations may refer by telephone, letter or recommend self-referral. Click here for more information on VVCS specialised services and eligibility criteria.

New Guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes in Children

GPs may be interested to learn that new clinical practice guidelines have been developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics in collaboration with a panel of representatives from the American Diabetes Association, the Pediatric Endocrine Society and the US academies of family physicians and nutrition, to address the management of type 2 diabetes in children between the ages of 10 and 18. These guidelines have come about due to the increasing incidence of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes

In the past, type 2 diabetes mellitus has been rare in paediatric patients and according to coauthor Janet Silverstein, MD, few providers have been trained in managing type 2 diabetes in children.

The guidelines include six key action points to assist clinicians with initial treatment and long-term management. The guidelines also recommend a target HbA1c of below 7 per cent.

The 10-member panel that developed the evidence-based guidelines included 2 paediatric endocrinologists along with 4 general paediatricians, 2 family physicians, an epidemiologist, and a nutritionist.

The new guidelines titled Management of Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) in Children and Adolescents are now available in the AMA GP Desktop 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