GP Network News Issue 10, Number 14 - 30 April 2010


Australians want a health system that is built on the family doctor – AMA survey

The first comprehensive national survey of general practice patients has found that 88 per cent of people have a usual family doctor and 83 per cent of people are very satisfied or satisfied with the medical care they receive. The survey confirms that Australians rate their family doctor as the most important part of the health system.

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce said the AMA has initiated a ‘Support Family Doctors’ campaign to ensure that governments and the public remained aware of the importance of family doctors to the Australian health system and to the local communities they serve.

The campaign is centred on a website – Support Family Doctors – and the AMA’s Five Point Checklist to guide government policy around effective primary care. The checklist covers: choice of doctor; more time; teamwork; infrastructure investment; and MBS that supports patient access to quality care.  Read more

Caring for patients with chronic and complex care needs – the AMA proposes a better way

The AMA has released a comprehensive plan to provide better care for patients with complex and chronic health care needs. The plan is a clinician-informed response to the Government’s recently announced proposals for caring for people with diabetes.

AMA Vice President, Dr Hambleton said the AMA supports the Government’s intent to improve access to GP-guided care for these patients but does not agree with its policy prescription.

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA plan provides more efficient arrangements to support well-coordinated multidisciplinary care to all patients with chronic and complex conditions, not just those with diabetes. By improving access to coordinated multidisciplinary care for these patients, the number of avoidable hospital admissions can be reduced and long-term savings generated for the health system.

Dr Hambleton said the AMA plan responds better to individual patient needs than the Government’s proposals. The plan ensures that patients do not lose their entitlement to a Medicare rebate and that funding arrangements do not interfere in the doctor-patient relationship. It provides access to a broad range of allied health and other support services and, importantly, it does not require the establishment of new bureaucracies in general practice. Read more

The AMA plan – Improving care for patients with chronic and complex care needs is available here.

Increased registration fees

Throughout the consultation on the implementation of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for the Health Professions, the AMA consistently highlighted that the cost of bureaucratic structures, additional agencies and layers of oversight would be expensive, and that the scheme would result in higher registration fees. The AMA sought government commitment to covering the additional costs of the scheme if its costs exceeded existing registration fees.

Now the AMA’s fears have been realised. The Medical Board has set the registration fee at $650, nearly 85% more than the current weighted national average fee.

The AMA has written to state and territory health ministers urging them to urgently consider the issue, and to provide an additional Government subsidy to cover the transitional and other ongoing costs of the national registration scheme. Read more

Suspension of seasonal flu vaccine to children five years and under – update

The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer has advised that the moratorium on the use of seasonal influenza in children five years and under will continue until the clinical and scientific investigations into the reactions to the vaccination are completed. With the onset of the flu season only a few weeks away, the Department of Health and Ageing continues to recommend seasonal flu vaccination for those who are vulnerable to poor outcomes with the flu, including those with underlying medical conditions –  especially respiratory or cardiac disease, those people over 65 years, pregnant women, and our Indigenous population. The CMO’s advice will be available on the DoHA website.