Cuts to Practice Incentive Payments (PIP) penalise GPs and pose public health risks

9 May 2012

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that last night’s Budget cuts to Practice Incentive Payments (PIP) to GPs will have a double negative impact on the health system by penalising GPs for not meeting new higher targets for cervical cancer screening and specialised diabetes care and removing incentives for immunisation.

Dr Hambleton said these measures, along with changes to the e-health PIP, have the potential to pose serious public health risks and undermine successful preventive health programs that are providing health benefits to many Australians.

“These cuts go against the Government’s stated objectives of championing preventive health and being a world leader in electronic health,” Dr Hambleton said.

“They also place an even greater burden on the engine room of the Australian health system – hardworking GPs in suburbs and towns across the country.

“Last night, the Government introduced a requirement that general practices must choose to participate in the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system if they are to continue receiving e-health PIP funding.

“This is not a requirement, it is a threat, and it comes on top of the Government’s failure to provide any new funding for the new clinical service that GPs are being asked to provide in helping patients prepare a shared health summary as part of the PCEHR.

“This double whammy represents a substantial roadblock to the effective implementation of the PCEHR and threatens Australia’s efforts to be a world leader in e-health.”

Dr Hambleton said the decision to discontinue the GP Immunisation Incentives Scheme is a public health risk of the highest order.

“Australia is a world leader in childhood immunisation rates but this decision could undermine that reputation and undo a lot of hard work by parents, GPs and other health professionals who promote the importance of immunisation in the community and in schools.

“Similarly, there has been no consultation on the increase in targets for the PIP Cervical Screening Incentive and the PIP Diabetes Incentive, and this will put the brakes on successful prevention and care programs that are helping thousands of people.

“These cuts are a big hit to general practice and quality patient care, and follow cuts in recent Budgets to joint injection rebates and mental health rebates, the loss of Medicare practice nurse rebates, earlier cuts to the GP Immunisation Incentives Scheme, and the imminent loss of the after hours PIP.

“The AMA will raise this issue with the Minister as a matter of urgency.  Public health is far more important than a Budget surplus,” Dr Hambleton said.

The PIP Budget cuts total $83.5 million over four years. 


9 May 2012


CONTACT:         John Flannery                       02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761