What the new after-hours rebates mean for GPs

Paul Hayes

19/12/2017 12:08:11 PM

The Federal Government’s recent changes to Medicare rebates are designed to better reflect the qualifications of doctors providing urgent after-hours care.

Services provided by qualified GPs and doctors on a pathway to Fellowship will continue to attract the current MBS rebate.
Services provided by qualified GPs and doctors on a pathway to Fellowship will continue to attract the current MBS rebate.

From 1 March 2018, the provision of after-hours care will include differential rebates for doctors providing urgent after-hours care who are vocationally registered and on a pathway to Fellowship. This will better reflect the level of doctors’ qualification and ultimately mean patients will receive more financial support for after-hours visits provided by qualified doctors.
Services provided by qualified GPs and doctors on a pathway to Fellowship will continue to attract the current Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) rebate, while the patient rebate for services provided by non-GPs will be adjusted and progressively lowered over the coming years. Services provided by GPs and other doctors in rural and remote areas (Modified Monash areas 3–7), and by all doctors between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am, will continue to attract the current MBS rebate.
The descriptors of urgent after-hours services will also be revised, which means doctors will need to assess and record the type of care a patient needs. This is done in order to help ensure the doctor correctly determines a patient’s circumstances and decides the most appropriate care.
Patients will no longer be able to book home visits in advance because, according to the Government, ‘medical need for an urgent after-hours home visit cannot be anticipated well in advance’. This will effectively end the end the practice of pre-booking after-hours home visits two hours before 6.00 pm.
The changes will also limit inappropriate advertising of urgent after-hours GP services, with the Government attributing much of the 157% growth in the use of urgent after-hours items between 2010–11 and 2016–17 to ‘advertising on the basis of convenience, rather than medical need’.
All of these changes came following the review conducted by the Department of Health’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce, which included representatives from the RACGP, Australian Medical Association (AMA), Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).

after-hours after-hours-services MBS-review

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Urmila Sriskanda   19/12/2017 12:20:10 PM

Does this mean the item numbers 5020 and 5040 will remain the same for VR GPs?

newsGP   19/12/2017 2:10:03 PM

Dr Sriskanda. Thanks for your question. Yes, items 5020 and 5040 are not being changed as part of the reform. Thank you.

Dr Amr Emad A. S. I Diab   20/12/2017 4:49:50 PM

who is exactly included in " doctors on pathway to FRACGP"?
does that mean only gp registrars, or also doctors on independent pathway (like most of the GP IMGs)

newsGP   21/12/2017 11:55:29 AM

Dr Diab. Thank you for your question.
Two factsheets have been made available by the Government to explain the changes - the following information sheet provides detailed information about the changes that will occur and the doctors they apply to$File/Final%20-%20Urgent%20After-Hours%20Review%20Recommendations%20and%20Government%20Response.pdf

The Government has used the term GP registrar to describe any doctor who is undertaking formal and structured general practice training through a College-recognised program and works under the supervision of a vocationally registered GP. This involves doctors who are undertaking Commonwealth-supported training on the AGPT or the RVTS, or through ACRRM’s Independent Training Pathway.

Other medical practitioners is used in the fact sheet to describe to non-vocationally registered doctors who are general practice workforce program participants (including doctors working through the Approved Medical Deputising Service Program and the Rural Locum Relief Program), temporary resident overseas trained doctors who predominately work in districts of workforce shortage and qualified non-GP specialists/consultant physicians.

Anthony Holt   29/01/2018 11:46:42 AM

I would like to know how the changes to after-hours care improves my healthcare.
My REGULAR GP at my REGULAR clinic only works b/w 6PM and 11PM Wed-Fri and 9AM-6PM Sat-Sun. They are his standard regular hours.
These changes mean I can no longer make appointments to see him prior to 4PM on the day of the planned visit.
It becomes just that much harder to see my REGULAR GP at my REGULAR clinic at a time that suits me rather than at a time that suits the government.

Thank you.

Anthony Holt

Dr Trump   26/10/2018 2:06:12 PM

The Government should cease AMDS after hours home visiting service, as this service is not right way for Dr to provide high quality Medical care to the patients, as no continue care, cannot order pathology and Radiology results, and can not see result even order it.
The patient should see their own GP after hours or see other GP in same area as share care from many Medical centre. Australia should learn Germany's Medical system.