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28 Aug 2014

AMA President, A/Prof Owler, said today that the Department of Health (DoH)) has finally provided satisfactory clearly-worded clarification about the role of practice nurses when undertaking health assessments.

A/Prof Owler said that the AMA raised the alarm when the Department of Human Services (DHS) issued advice in June that stipulated practice nurse time would no longer count in Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) health assessment items.

“The AMA alerted the Health Minister, DHS, and the Department of Health that this advice undermined primary health care arrangements, and was at odds with the Government’s stated objective of making the best use of the health workforce,” A/Prof Owler said.

“We demanded revision and clarification of the advice and have been working with DoH and DHS ever since to reach a mutually agreed definitive statement to provide certainty for GPs and practice nurses.

“Unfortunately, DHS’s initial attempts to clarify its position simply created more confusion and uncertainty.

“But constructive collaboration between the AMA Council of General (AMACGP), DoH, and DHS has produced definitive and acceptable advice.

“It confirms the long-standing policy position that practice nurses can assist GPs in performing a health assessment, and outlines the circumstances where the time taken by the practice nurse can be added to the time taken by the GP to complete the assessment.

“We welcome this clarification, and have stressed that any future changes to the advice issued to GPs should only happen once there has been adequate consultation with the AMA and relevant stakeholders,” A/Prof Owler said.

The revised advice now states that circumstances where the time taken by practice nurses in assisting in a health assessment is recognised, which includes:

  • information collection, including gathering of patient information  for the medical practitioner and the taking and recording of routine measurements; and
  • providing patients with information about recommended interventions at the direction of the GP.

The full advice is at:

28 August 2014


CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                            Odette Visser                      02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753 

Published: 28 Aug 2014