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Welcome to the AMA's online newsletter

19 May 2015 Issue # 75

Feedback on Med e-link (WA) is welcomed. Send your views to .

Curtin Medical School worst decision in decades

The recent announcement on a new medical school at Curtin University is the worst decision seen in Western Australian health in decades, the AMA (WA) said.

“This is sneaky and secretive and will do nothing to provide additional GPs in rural areas or indeed Western Australia,” AMA (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said.

“This announcement will reduce the quality of training and will put patient care at risk.

“The statement, which provides no worthwhile detail, is bad for patient care, bad for education and bad for WA’s finances...."

To read the rest of Dr Gannon's response, click here. To join in the dicussion, visit the AMA (WA) Facebook page.


Health Budget fails to cope with demand

The health sector will struggle to provide a continued high standard of care following a real cut in the State Budget, the AMA (WA) said.


“An adjustment of just 1.3 per cent over the next year is, in fact, a serious cut.  It will not be enough to cater for the continuing increase in demand and the rise in medical costs,”
AMA (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said.


“We acknowledge that times are tough for the state finances.  However it is sad that the rise in the health budget is not only below CPI, but dramatically below medical CPI.


To read more of Dr Michael Gannon's response to the State Budget, please click here


Fiona Stanley Hospital Survey

Following numerous concerns expressed by AMA (WA) members about problems associated with the reconfiguration of health services in the wake of the opening of Fiona Stanley Hospital, the AMA (WA) Council has made a decision to survey all Medical Practitioners to obtain direct feedback about specific problem areas.


AMA (WA) members are therefore invited to participate in the survey, which you will find here.


Your feedback will be valuable in arming the Association to advocate on your behalf for necessary improvements to the system for the benefit of patient care.


Important reminder: bioCSL Fluvax not to be given to children under five

Following confirmation of nine cases of the administration of bioCSL Fluvax® to children under five years of age since the start of the 2015 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Program last month, the Department of Health is urging all GPs to remember that bioCSL Fluvax is NOT registered for use in children less than five years of age and must NOT be given in this age group.


Since late 2010, bioCSL Fluvax® has not been registered for use in children aged less than five years because it causes unacceptably high rates of adverse events, specifically fevers and febrile convulsions, in children of this age. If bioCSL Fluvax is administered to a child under five years of age, this constitutes “off-label” use which exposes providers to legal risk. 


Furthermore, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation does not recommend the use of bioCSL Fluvax in children aged five to nine years due to an increased risk of fever in this age group. Alternative seasonal influenza vaccines, which are less likely to induce fever, are usually readily available.


GPs are advised to ensure that the warning labels that come with the vaccine are placed in a highly visible place, such as the fridge door. It is also suggested that practices ensure all staff who administer flu vaccines understand the restrictions and warnings for bioCSL Fluvax.


Sexual harassment: zero tolerance approach

In recent decades, there have been significant strides made towards engendering safe and productive workplace environments that are free from gender inequality or harassment. 


As part of the AMA (WA)’s commitment to addressing issues that have been highlighted in recent media reports around gender equality within our medical workforce, we have created a series of surveys that relate to equal opportunities and fair workplace conditions. 


Whilst bullying and discrimination will be the topic of future surveys in the series, the AMA (WA) is currently surveying medical practitioners and medical students on Sexual Harassment.


The Association stresses that this survey is anonymous. The responses to the survey will be used to highlight any deficiencies in workplace behaviour and reporting processes. Furthermore, it will help direct advocacy in order to ensure that all medical practitioners are able to practise medicine in a progressive and inclusive environment. 


We greatly value your contribution regardless of whether or not you have personal experience of workplace sexual harassment. 


If you have not already completed our survey on Sexual Harassment, please click here for the opportunity to share your opinion. 


Medicare Indexation Freeze: support material for practices

The AMA is continuing to advocate strongly against the government’s decision to freeze MBS indexation for four years from 1 July 2014 until July 2018.


To assist you to explain this freeze to your patients and the impact on their out-of-pocket costs for medical care, the AMA has developed a range of materials for practices.


Use the Indexation Freeze Gaps Poster prepared by the AMA to show your patients the impact of the MBS indexation freeze compared to annual indexation of medical fees.


Use the AMA Guide for Patients on how the Healthcare System Funds Medical Care to explain to your patients how their healthcare is funded and why they might have out of pocket costs for their medical care.


You can also download the AMA Template Letter to Patients about Increased Medical Fees to tailor your practice’s information to your patients about how the Medicare freeze will impact the fees your practice charges for its services. Click here to download the letter. 


The AMA Checklist for Patient Billing provides guidance to medical practices about introducing patient billing and increasing medical fees.


The Information for Patients on Registering Bank Account Details with Medicare will assist a smooth transition to patient billing for practices that cannot continue to bulk bill patients as a result of the Government’s indexation freeze.


Updated Australian Asthma Handbook released

The National Asthma Council Australia recently released the updated Australian Asthma Handbook, version 1.1, the national guidelines for asthma management in primary care.


A significant change to the handbook is the addition of evidence-based advice regarding the role and use of the newly available combination therapy, fluticasone furoate/vilanterol (Breo Ellipta), emphasising that the medication is a treatment option only for the few adults whose asthma remains inadequately controlled on low-dose combination therapy.


Additional highlights of the updated Handbook include: a detailed rationale for long-term use of low-dose inhaled corticosteroids in adults highlighting aims of treatment and risks of cessation; clarification of stepped management approaches for stepping up, stepping down and stepping off preventers in adults, adolescents and children; and modification of acute management protocols to accommodate a wider range of clinical settings and treatment scenarios.


The updated Handbook, including a full list of amendments can be accessed by AMA members via the GP Desktop Practice Support Toolkit.


Office of Hearing Services medical certificate now available via medical software

In order to facilitate the process of applying for hearing services, the Office of Hearing Services has made its medical certificates available to practitioners via a number of medical software packages.


The Office of Hearing Services provides eligible clients with a range of hearing services, including a choice of hearing services provider; a hearing assessment, advice and support; and, if needed, the fitting of an appropriate hearing device and a contribution to maintenance and repair of hearing aids.


Prior to accessing the program, a medical certificate is required for all new client applications. The certificate must include the overseeing medical practitioner’s provider number and a statement regarding any contraindications to the fitting of a device.


The certificate has been made available to practitioners through the following medical software packages: Best Practice, Medtech, Genie Solutions, CSC/Practix, Zedmed, Communicare, and Medical Director. The certificate is accompanied by a fact sheet for the program, which contains information for clients regarding eligibility, how to apply for the program and how to find a hearing services provider.


For more information about the program please visit, email or call 1800 500 726.


Medicines Australia's new Code of Conduct: what it means for you

Last month the ACCC authorised a new version of Medicines Australia’s Code of Conduct. While the Code of Conduct governs the activities of pharmaceutical companies, there are important implications for medical practitioners.


Medicines Australia’s new code requires its member pharmaceutical companies to report on payments or benefits provided to individual health practitioners that fall in the following categories:

  • fees and/or speaking fees to a healthcare professional
  • sponsorship for a healthcare professional to attend an educational event: airfares, accommodation and/or registration fees
  • fees paid to healthcare professional consultants in Australia, or to their employers on their behalf, for specific services rendered by them: consulting fees, accommodation and airfares
  • fees paid to healthcare professionals in their role as Advisory Board members: sitting fees, accommodation and airfares
  • fees paid to healthcare professionals for the purpose of market research where the identity of the healthcare professional is known to the company
  • payment of an educational grant or sponsorship to a specific healthcare professional.

These requirements will be implemented in two stages.


From 1 October 2015, pharmaceutical companies will collect data on these categories of payments so that they can publicly report on the payments made to individual health practitioners.


In line with Australian privacy legislation, companies will need to seek consent from individuals before this can be published. Individuals will be able to withhold consent.


However, from 1 October 2016, pharmaceutical companies will only be able to enter into relationships with practitioners who consent to this information being published. Individual information will retained and published for three years.


Medicines Australia is planning a communications campaign to increase awareness of the new Code requirements which will run for around 18 months. The AMA will provide information about Medicines Australia material when it is available.


Health Pro Protect - the right insurance for your practice

Do you have adequate insurance cover for your practice?


Get Health Pro Protect insurance from AMA Insurance, which offers more cover and a better claims experience.


We are now also offering a limited-time special introductory offer of a 15-month policy for the price of 12.

Visit for further details or to request a quote, or call us on (08) 9273 3077.


AGM set for 10 June 2015

Members are advised that the AMA (WA) Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday 10 June, at the Association’s headquarters in Nedlands, starting at 6pm for light refreshments followed by the AGM at 6.30pm.

Members who attend will be invited to join in the discussion on AMA (WA) business and enjoy the fellowship of colleagues. 

For more information please contact the Secretariat on (08) 9273 3028.


• Declare meeting open
• Apologies
• Confirmation of minutes
• Annual Report of Council
• Declaration of Ballot of Office Bearers and Members of Council
• Investiture of the President
• Closing of meeting by President.


AMA (WA) Annual Charity Ball

The annual AMA (WA) Charity Gala Dinner and Awards Night will take place on Saturday, 1 August at Crown Perth. 


Come and join us as we celebrate worthy causes, high achievers and excellence in Western Australia's medical community. 


For further details and to book tickets, visit the AMA (WA) website.


Toxicology Conference

The WA Toxicology Service is hosting the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology Conference in December 2015. 


To be held in Perth from 1-4 December, APAMT will being together specialists in Poisons information from around the world to discuss the latest developments and research in Clinical Toxicology. 


The call for abstracts is now open. For more details, click here or visit the APAMT website.


Test drive the BMW i3 – electric and electrifying!

AMA(WA) members are being offered a rare opportunity to test drive the BMWi3 for two days.


The BMWi3 offers not only locally emission-free, but also an incomparable and near-silent driving experience.


The cars will be available from 18-28 May and your own car can be left at Auto Classic Burswood, where it will be securely parked.


It is a pre-condition that you have your driving licence with you when you collect the BMW i3.


Please email Des Michael to arrange suitable dates.


The Entertainment Book is here

The Entertainment Book and Digital Membership is your guide to the most popular restaurants, attractions, shopping, travel and more.


Available from early May for only $65, you will receive over $20,000 worth of discounts and offers valid until 1 June, 2016. Check out the book and all its offers here.


Digital Membership makes it more convenient by having it available on your iPhone or Android, while the traditional Book Membership comes with a Gold card and Vouchers.


With every membership sold, 20 per cent will be donated to the AMA(WA) Foundation.


The AMA(WA) Foundation was established in 1996 and is comprised of the Dr YES and Youth Friendly Doctor programs, which were developed to address important health issues facing youth.


Each year more and more GPs are trained to be Youth Friendly and thanks to the Dr YES program, thousands of young people across WA engage in high school sessions which encourage open and honest communication about the important health issues they face.


To order your copy of the Entertainnment Book, please contact Louise Browne on (08) 9273 3000 or via email.


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