After-hours services facing ‘day of reckoning’

Paul Hayes

24/10/2017 12:00:00 AM

The RACGP has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to launch an investigation into after-hours medical services following News Corp reports it is using unqualified doctors to treat patients.

Dr Bastian Seidel
Dr Bastian Seidel

‘The RACGP has long held concerns that these after-hours services are being provided by doctors who are not suitably qualified as GPs. This situation places patients at risk,’ President Dr Bastian Seidel told newsGP. ‘The RACGP is supportive of appropriate after-hours medical services and welcomes the government’s decision to ensure they are provided by suitably experienced and competent doctors.’
According to reports:

  • unpublished Medicare data shows 70% of the 1.86 million after-hours home visits in 2015–16 were made by non-vocationally registered GPs and GP trainees
  • a significant amount of visits were from trainee doctors that have allegedly led to misdiagnosis, complications and poor quality of care.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has described the investigation as ‘a moment of reckoning’.
‘The company has denied [the claims] and they are entitled to have their right to put their side, but the AMA and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, two of the most reputable medical bodies in the country, have their concerns as well,’ Hunt said.
According to the National Association for Medical Deputising Services (NAMDS), the peak body for after-hours medical deputising services, each if its doctors is properly registered.
‘They are fully trained doctors including emergency specialists and have an average twelve years post graduate experience,’ NAMDS said in a statement. ‘Without the service, there would be more than one million extra unnecessary emergency department presentations every year.’
There has been a more than 150% increase in the number of urgent after-hours MBS services (734,000 to 1,869,000 per financial year) from 2010–11 to 2015–16.  By contrast, standard GP services rose only 15% over the same period.
The MBS Review Taskforce found the substantial growth in the number of services and benefits paid for urgent item numbers was driven more by increasing numbers of medical deputising businesses rather than clinical need.

after-hours MBS-Review Medicare RACGP

newsGP weekly poll How do you use PBS authorities?

newsGP weekly poll How do you use PBS authorities?



Login to comment