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22 July 2013 Issue #44

Warning to GPs regarding Medicare Local Contracts

The AMA (WA) has warned all GPs about contracts they may have received from some Medicare Locals.

AMA (WA) President Dr Richard Choong has written to all GPs stating that the Association has been contacted by a number of practices to express their concern at the contents of the GP After-hours contracts.

“The AMA (WA) is concerned at the size, complexity and content of some of the contracts certain Medicare locals are providing,” Dr Choong said.

“Last year we had a meeting to overcome a number of concerns and to ensure all contracts in WA were consistent and provided in plain English.

“It appears the contrary has occurred which is extremely disappointing, and it’s not just a local issue, but a national problem.

“Certain factual inconsistencies have been spotted in some of the contracts. For example we are aware that a number of practices have been told that if they did not sign their contracts, they would not be accredited,” he said.

“This is not true.

“As a consequence we have urged Medicare Locals nationwide to use an improved contract for GPs to provide afterhours care, after serious flaws in contracts originally prepared by individual Medical Locals were met with strong resistance from both the AMA and GPs on a wider basis.

“The AMA has worked with the Australian Medicare Local Alliance in the development of a more sensible and balanced contract which is a vast improvement on the contracts previously issued. Templates of the revised contracts are available from the AMA (WA),” Dr Choong said.

Members who would like further information on this matter should contact Michael Prendergast at the AMA (WA) on (08) 9273 3008.

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Make Health an Election Issue: AMA President addresses the National Press Club

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton addressed the National Press Club in Canberra recently.

Dr Hambleton highlighted the policies and pledges that the AMA believes the Government, the Coalition, and other parties must commit to and deliver if Australians are to continue to enjoy affordable access to high quality health services into the future.

Dr Hambleton said that the AMA’s health policies are practical, achievable, and affordable.

“Health reform must be resuscitated urgently or Australians will find it more and more difficult to get access to quality affordable health care – where and when they need it,” Dr Hambleton said.

“These are tough economic conditions nationally and internationally, but the next Government must invest the best it can in the health of the Australian people. 

“It is important in this environment to get back to basics. We must protect and support the fundamentals of the health system.

“If new funding is limited, then it must go towards building on the things that work, the things that respond to our changing needs.

“Any policy must be tested against the reasons we need reform – our increasing burden of chronic disease and our ageing population.

“Proposals should be moving us toward a joined-up, strengthened primary health care system built on team-based solutions,” Dr Hambleton said.

The AMA's Key Health Issues for the 2013 Election can be found here.

To view Dr Hambleton's speech, please click here.

To view the Q&A transcript, please click here

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Treasury must take the rap for the cap

The AMA has released its response to the Treasury Discussion Paper Reform to deductions for education expenses.

The Discussion Paper details the Government’s proposed assault on education in the form of a $2000 cap on the tax deductibility of work-related self-education expenses.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said that the Treasury Discussion Paper shows a total lack of understanding of the reality of professional self-education, especially for doctors.

Dr Hambleton pointed out that Treasury has not conducted sector-by-sector analysis of the possible impact of the proposed reform across the professions, nor has it provided any credible quantification for setting the cap at $2000.

“Treasury has given the Government very bad advice,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Treasury must take the rap for the cap.”

For more information, please click here.

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AMA calls for axing of PBS Authority

Rules forcing doctors to get permission from public servants before prescribing medicines is outdated and needs to be scrapped, according to the Federal AMA.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said Government red tape was a huge burden on family doctors and medical practices, particularly the PBS authority system.

A survey conducted by the AMA recently found that 17 per cent of family doctors seeking permission to prescribe certain medicines reported spending 10 minutes or more a day, and three per cent reported spending 30 minutes or more a day, waiting for calls to be answered by Human Services Department bureaucrats.

For more information, please click here

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Private Practice Salary Survey 2013

The Australian Medical Association (WA) is undertaking a Private Practice Salary Survey as a result of members contacting the Association on a regular basis seeking information that relates to the current or going rates of wages for clerical, nursing and allied health staff in both general and specialist medical practices.

The 2013 survey is the third survey to be undertaken and seeks to obtain information that will assist in providing further salary information to practices.

It is the Association’s intention to undertake this survey on an annual basis each July.

It would be appreciated if either you or your practice manager could complete this survey by Friday 9 August 2013. Results will be made available upon request to Medical Practitioners once the survey is completed and analysed. This information will not be provided to practice staff as it may result in wage claims.

The Association confirms no practice or personal details will be published or released to any third parties.

Should you have any questions regarding the survey please contact Gary Bucknall at the AMA (WA) on 9273 3000 or via email.

The Association greatly appreciates your time in completing this brief survey.

All responses to the survey will be entered into a draw to win six bottles of Sandalford Element wines.

This link is uniquely tied to this survey and your email address. Please do not forward this message.

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Proper indexation of Medicare patient rebates needed: AMA

The indexation of Medicare rebates has not kept pace with the rising costs of providing care, pushing more of the health care cost onto doctors and their patients, the AMA has warned in a video.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said that proper and realistic indexation of Medicare rebates was urgently needed.

“Years of inadequate Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) indexation, along with the recent freeze on MBS indexation, means the Government is simply shifting costs to patients.

“Families will have to pay more each time they visit their family doctor,”
Dr Hambleton said.

For more information, please click here.

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AMA (WA) Medical Products End-of-Financial-Year Sale extended to 31 July!

AMA (WA) Medical Products has launched its End-of-Financial-Year (EOFY) promotion!

Between now and 31 July 2013, save thousands on medical equipment. Keep your eye out for the NEW Interacoustics AS608E Screening Audiometer and heavily reduced prices on Electronic Beds, Autoclaves and Diagnostic Sets.

Click here to see more great offers!

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Urgent GP Locum required

Region: Great Southern
Date: 09- 28 September 2013

• 65 per cent of billings
• VR required
• Accommodation provided
• Vehicle provided
• Minimal on-call

Location: This fully computerised busy mixed billing private practice is located in a large regional town surrounded by one of the most rugged coastlines in Australia and is just a leisurely 5 hours drive from Perth. Whether you prefer whale watching, touring some of the best vineyards in the world or just walking through the majestic old forests of the region, this position offers a tremendous opportunity for a working holiday. 

Practice: This modern practice is a fully-accredited and awarded training practice consisting of four GPs with three practice nurses. The practice promotes a strong learning environment and actively participates in the teaching of medical students. There is minimal on-call for in-patients only. Hospital credentialing is required. Hospital, nursing home and house visits may be required.

For more information on this position phone Margaret Tembleton on
(08) 9273 3033 or via email

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Vivaldi by Candlelight

The Perth Chamber Orchestra will be performing a selection of songs from one of the world's great Baroque composers, Antonio Vivaldi.

AMA (WA) has managed to secure a strictly limited number of pre-sale tickets at $65 each for an all-inclusive evening of incredible music, fine wine and canapés to make this a multi-sensory concert like no other.

Venue: Wesley Church, 97 William St, Perth
Date: 25 September, 6-8 pm 

Email no later than 26 July with credit card details to secure your booking.

For more information, please click here

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Completing a Death Certificate

Tuesday 20 August 2013 - AMA (WA) Nedlands: 6pm for a 6.30pm start.

Presented by: MDA National

Presenters: Dr Jane Deacon (GP & MDA National Medico-Legal Advisor) and Victoria Astill-Smith (Claims Manager [Solicitor], MDA National).

Completing a Death Certificate has legal responsibilities.

Recently some concerns have been raised about the accuracy of Death Certificates that include the possible misunderstanding of the certification process, errors in the completion of the certificate itself and also the accurate reporting of the Cause of Death.

This seminar will go through examples of actual Death Certificates in common scenarios and provide participants with a step by step guide to assist practitioners in meeting their legal obligation.

Free for AMA and MDA National members

RSVP by Friday 16 August 2013
Fax 9273 3073
Telephone Skye on (08) 9273 3028

Click here for full details of this seminar and to download the registration form.

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MIIAA Annual Forum 2013: Evolution in the medico-legal landscape

Date: Thursday 12 September 2013
Venue: InterContinental Hotel, Sydney

Presenters: Alison Choy Flannigan, Partner at Holmann Webb Lawyers, and Associate Professor Michael Greco, CEO of Patient Opinion Australia

In 2013, everyone can have a voice online and every patient can blog and say exactly what they think of health services and their staff. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allow patients to tell the story of their care, or say how they would like their care to be different.
Similarly, medical professionals or institutions can bring attention to their services and areas of expertise and interact with patients more easily than ever before.

Obviously, the medico-legal risks involved in these communications are evolving along with the technologies.

This session will start by providing an overview of the legal obligations around the use of social media, including management of websites and posting on other websites. The medico-legal issues associated with this use and any medical advice provided online will also be discussed.

The second part of the session will focus on Patient Opinion Australia, a website that enables health organisations and patients to have a productive two-way dialogue about both positive and negative experiences. This way, patients feel they are being heard and health organisations are seen to be responsive to the voice of the patient. This approach seems to produce a more useful dialogue than the unarmed combat that passes for discussion on many organisational blogs and e-groups. The Patient Opinion site (developed by doctors) is more controlled and monitored in the interests of promoting real change in health services where it is needed.

To register and view the full program, please click here.

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National Pain Week

Monday 22 - 28 July 2013

Chronic pain is a serious condition affecting one in three Australians (a sizable increase from around one in five just over a decade ago). It is estimated it costs Australians $34 billion per year in health care, out-of-pocket expenses, lost income and lower economic productivity.

This year a “CyberFest of Hope” will allow interested person to view via the internet free programs about pain treatments, management strategies, the latest research and to enjoy using the internet to make connections with others around the nation. The NBN city of Armidale in NSW will be the hub for this cyber event.

For those without internet access, Chronic Pain Australia has reached out to local libraries to ask them to make their computers available for people in pain to see these programs. We encourage those people without internet service to contact their local library and ask them to contact Chronic Pain Australia by email.

A media kit with the program, posters and details on how their library members can watch the Pain Seminars will then be sent.

For a full program list, please click here.

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Free CPR course for AMA (WA) GP members

Just a reminder that RACGP requires CPR to be completed in this triennium 2011 – 13.

In view of this, the AMA (WA) is running free CPR courses for member doctors at the Nedlands premises on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings.

The next course is on Saturday 27 July and is almost fully booked, so get in quickly to avoid missing out!

To book a place please complete the attached registration form and return it at or fax to 9273 3045.

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Community Prescribing of Opioid Pharmacotherapy Training

Monday 5 August 2013 - Next Step Drug & Alcohol Service, 32 Moore St, East Perth

Time: 9:30am - 4:00pm

CPOP training enables medical practitioners to appropriately assess opioid dependence, safely prescribe methadone and buprenorphine, and comply with CPOP policies and procedures.
Upon successful completion of the training program medical practitioners can obtain authority from the Department of Health allowing the prescription of methadone and buprenorphine to suitable patients. Individual prescribers decide the nature and extent of referrals accepted or can elect to only prescribe to suitable existing patients.

Training is provided free of charge.

A light lunch will be provided and General Practitioners are eligible for Continuing Medical Education credits from the RACGP and ACRRM.

For more information on what the training entails, please click here

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Member Benefits

A wide variety of exciting events and movies are on offer in this month's On The Town.

To enter, visit AMA (WA) for your chance to win free double passes to one of these events.

Remember, AMA (WA) members have exclusive access to discounts across a wide range of goods and services. Various categories of benefits are available and these can be viewed by visiting Member Benefits.

Not a member? Join now!

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