What GPs need to know for the start of the new financial year

Amanda Lyons

28/06/2018 1:47:30 PM

The new financial year will bring a number of important changes to programs and services that affect general practice. newsGP summarises some key information for GPs.

July will bring a number of changes to programs and services relevant to GPs and their patients.
July will bring a number of changes to programs and services relevant to GPs and their patients.

The end of June and the first day of July is a significant time for GPs this year, with changes occurring in programs and services that will affect them, their practices and their patients.
Important upcoming changes to four key programs are summarised below in a quick guide.
National Cancer Screening Register
Friday 29 June will see the release of two of the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR), in which all pre-1 December 2017 results for participants of the National Cervical Screening Program will have been migrated from the existing state and territory registers into the NCSR to provide national records.
Department of Human Services Prescription Shopping Alert Service
The Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Prescription Shopping Alert Service (PSAS) assesses a small group of patients each month who meet the criteria of the Prescription Shopping Programme, which is designed to detect people who may be obtaining more medicine than they need.
The DHS currently sends a letter every six months to patients who continually meet these criteria and their prescribers. But these letters will be sent to prescribers only from 1 July.
The letters contain information about the types and quantities of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines patients are accessing, and can be used to make informed prescribing decisions in the future.
Prescribers can also access further information on patients about whom they have received letters from a 24-hour telephone line supplied by the DHS.
Changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule
The gradual lifting of the five-year Medicare freeze will continue, with Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) group A1 – GP attendances, or consultation items, indexed from 1 July.
Listed below is the pre-indexation and post-indexation dollar value of the three most commonly used consultation items:

  • Item 23: $37.60 (previously $37.05)
  • Item 36: $72.80 (previously $71.70)
  • Item 44: $107.15 (previously $105.55)
Medicare rebates will also be reduced after five years for non-vocationally registered (VR) GPs who are not participating in approved training programs. These changes are part of the Federal Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy and are intended to incentivise non-VR doctors to gain Fellowship and work in regional, rural or remote areas.
National Immunisation Program schedule changes
The National Immunisation Program (NIP) will implement changes to the childhood immunisation schedule to improve protection against meningococcal, pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae type B diseases. The updates are listed below:
  • Children will receive a meningococcal ACWY vaccine, replacing the meningococcal C vaccination, at 12 months of age.
  • Children will receive the booster Hib vaccine dose, protecting against haemophilus influenzae type B, at 18 months of age.
  • Children will receive a pneumococcal vaccine at two, four and 12 months of age, instead of at two, four and six months. However, at-risk children and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia will continue to receive four doses of pneumococcal vaccine at two, four, six and 12 months of age.

Department of Human Services Medicare benefits schedule National Immunisation Program non vocationally registered

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Mark O'Donoghue   1/07/2018 10:00:04 PM

I am bitterly disappointed with the RACGP. I only pay them to count points. The medicare rebate has been falling behind inflation sine 1986 and you have let the government constantly screw us down. I believe that by 2020 the medicare 'rebate' will be 40% of what it was when medicare was introduced. That's a 60% PAY CUT over the past three decades. It is my understanding that GPs use 7% of the medicare budget and there have been more specialists than GPs for several years now. It is medicare's fault that doctors will only see patients for one problem then get them to come back for a second. It's medicare's fault that doctors are doing 6 minute consults because it's the only way they can make a buck. There is no money in practicing good medicine. If a doctor bangs through three consults in 20 minutes he is making three times the money of the guy doing a proper multifaceted thorough job. Medicare rewards poor practice and it annoys the JEBUS out of me. I believe that the RACGP has facilitated the Nationalisation by Stealth that we were all afraid of at the introduction of medicare. Yes, I'm THAT old. You should have fought SO much harder to preserve the income and status of general practice. We should not be in the position that are in today and I believe that you 'fiddled while Rome burned'. Perhaps my LAD coronary calcium score of 400 will end my misery before the profession goes further down the drain.

Emmanuel   19/10/2018 10:17:39 PM

I share your frustration Mark. The RACGP has let GPs down. Bastian Seidel was a colossal failure. But nothing is going to change until GPs take their destiny into their own hands. Harry Nespolon sounds promising but only him can not take the government to task on this issue. If Australian GPs will be brave enough to down tools for just a day, it will provide our new president with the ammunition he needs to confront the government. Whether or not GPs will take this issue seriously remains to be seen.