General Topics

Trial practices modelling ‘to be opened up’

The Department of Health will open up the economic modelling of all general practices in the Health Care Home trials, including corporate participants. Assistant secretary Janet Quigley revealed the plan after being quizzed about the representative mix of the experiment to apply team-based, bundled-payment care systems for chronically ill patients. Read more

AGPA to have presence at major GP conference

The Australian GP Alliance is having a stand at the General Practice Training and Education Conference 2017 (GPTEC17) in Sydney next week – Wednesday and Thursday, 16 – 17 August. The aim of the stand is build awareness of AGPA generally, its purpose and role, the success we had with the pathology-rent issue, other issues we are following/advocating/pushing – and, of course, to try and get new members. Read more

Record bulk-billing, department says

More Australian patients are visiting their doctor without having to pay than ever before, with GP bulk billing rates for the March 2017 quarter increasing to 85.6% compared to 85.1% in the same quarter last year, according to the Department of Health.

This is the highest bulk billing rate for any March quarter since the inception of Medicare.

During July 2016 to March 2017, patients received 228.1 million bulk billed Medicare services – representing an additional 7.3 million fully subsidised services compared to the same period 12 months earlier.

Over this period Australians accessed 110.2 million GP services – an increase of 3.6 million services.

The total cost of all Medicare benefits paid during this period was $16.3 billion, an increase of 2.8%.

Budget 2017: Response from the Australian General Practice Alliance

The Chair of the Australian General Practice Alliance (AGPA), Dr John Deery, welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, that the flawed capping of rentals for accredited Pathology collection centres in medically owned health facilities will not proceed.

Read more

Simple primary-care reforms ‘could save $320m’

Simple reforms to Australia’s health system could help save more than $320 million a year on avoidable hospital admissions and provide better care for people with diabetes, asthma, heart disease and other chronic conditions, according to a Grattan Institute report.

The primary health system, Australians’ first point of contact for health care, was designed in and for another era and is now failing in the prevention and management of chronic disease, the heaviest burden on today’s health system.

The government spends more that $1 billion each year on planning, coordinating and reviewing chronic disease management, yet many people with chronic conditions do not receive best care and end up having hospital stays that could have been avoided with better care.

More details and the full report are here

Medicare income and job satisfaction in decline

Medicare revenue and job satisfaction for GPs are falling, according to a Melbourne University report.

Medicare revenue per full-time-equivalent GP has declined in real terms since the Medicare fee freeze in 2013.

Reported GP job satisfaction and work–life balance have deteriorated since 2013. This suggests reduced morale which, if continued, could compound existing slow growth and dif culties in recruitment and retention in the sector.

The full report is here

Health Minister replies to pathology rent concern

The “disillusioned” GPs from the Lockridge Medical Center in WA have received a reply from the Minister for Health after expressing concerns about the plans to artificially cap rental rates for co-located pathology centres. The original letter is here and the reply is here.

 You can download a membership application form by clicking here.

AGPA Annual Congress 2017 – GP Crisis Meeting

The congress, at Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport. 4 March 2017. 9.30am to 5pm, was officially opened by Dr Mike Freelander MP, Member for Macarthur. Dr John Deery, Chair of the Australian GP Alliance, then gave an overview of the AGPA and its aims. The congress then held a number of workshops over three sessions to discuss issues relevant to General Practice in Australia:

Session 1 : Political Traction, Improving Professional Standing, Providing Business Support

Session 2: Securing Income Streams, Pathology Rent Controversy, Dealing with your PHN

Session 3: Patient Centered Medical Home vs HCH Funding Model, Rural Issues, eHealth

Resolutions developed in each of the sessions were then presented to the congress. They will be refined and used to assist the Board to develop the strategic direction for the Australian GP Alliance over the coming months.

 You can download a membership application form by clicking here.