GP Network News, Issue 12 Number 35
In this issue: Practice Nurse Pay Claim AMA Guide to using the PCEHR Closure of the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme GP Management of Depression Enhanced Through the Better Access ProgramRVTS Applications Close 14 September
Proceedings began this week in Melbourne before Fair Work Australia (FWA) with respect to the application made by the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) for a Low Paid Bargaining Authorisation.
The AMA is representing the interests of member practices that are affected by the ANF claim, which seeks to rope around 700 practices into a collective bargaining process. The ANF is seeking public sector style conditions to apply to private general practices.
The AMA is strongly resisting the ANF claim, arguing that practices nurses are not low paid and that the current arrangements where there is agreement at the local level on wages and conditions works best for practices and nurses alike. This is of course subject to the minimum conditions set out in the Nurses Award.
At the time of writing, the FWA was hearing evidence from the ANF’s witnesses. The AMA is expected to commence its case today, with further hearing dates set for November and December.
The AMA has prepared a guide for doctors on how to use the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system. The AMA Guide to Using the PCEHR has been developed in close consultation with practitioners and is available on the AMA website.
It provides information and guidance to help medical practitioners decide whether or not to participate in the PCEHR system, and explains how they might use the PCEHR in their day-to-day practice.
As important aspects of the PCEHR are finalised, including the ability to integrate with practice software, the PCEHR should become a valuable addition to quality health care.
Medicare benefits for dental services (Medicare items 85011-8777) under the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme will cease from 1 December 2012, regardless of whether patients have completed their course of treatment. Patients who have a GP Management Plan (item 721) and Team Care Arrangement (item 723), or residents in an aged care facility with a Multidisciplinary Care Plan (item 731) in place prior to 8 September 2012, and who have been referred for dental services under the Scheme, have between now and 1 December to complete their dental treatment. Dental services provided after 1 December will be at the patient’s own expense.
The Department of Health and Ageing have provided additional information at http://health.gov.au/dental or if you have specific questions call them on the provider number 132 150.
A recent report in the Medical Journal of Australia shows that GPs remain heavily involved in the management of depression, and that primary care access to depression management has increased enormously under the Better Access scheme.
Researchers from the University of Sydney, analysing the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) data between 1998 and 2011, compared the treatment of depression under the Government’s Better Access program with the previous Better Outcomes Initiative. They found that there had been a strong improvement in access to primary care management of depression, and that GPs managed depression at significantly higher rates, prescribed medication at similar rates and provided counselling at slightly lower rates.
This data contradicts claims by Professor Ian Hickie, director of the Brain and Mind Institute, that GPs are little more than ‘glorified referrers’ under the Better Access Program.
The authors state that, although there has been an increase in referrals to psychologists, the study shows that GPs remained as active in the management of depression over the Better Access period as they were during Better Outcomes.
Dr Brian Morton, Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice said the study showed that Better Access has been a positive initiative and that cuts to Medicare rebates for the preparation of mental health care plans under the program have threatened to undermine its benefits.
Applications for the 2013 intake of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme close 14 September (with supporting documentation due 21 September). RVTS offers an alternative pathway to FRACGP/FARGP and FACRRM for GPs working in remote and rural locations. The curriculum is delivered via distance education and registrars are supervised remotely. Training commences on 4 February 2013. RVTS is fully funded by the Australian Government. For complete eligibility criteria visit http://rvts.org.au, or contact (02) 6057 3400.
Published: 07 Sep 2012