In The Media

Visit to GP after hospital reduces risk of readmission

The RACGP is pushing for a simple incentive scheme to encourage patients to see their GP within seven days of being discharged from hospital. The proposal, which will form part of the College’s submission to the MBS review, comes on the back of a recent American study, which found that a visit to a GP within seven days of a hospital admission reduced the risk…

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Door open to delay Health Care Homes roll out

Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said she would take advice from her department after GP groups renewed their demand for a three- to six-month delay in the Health Care Homes trials. In response to the call by six GP groups, under the banner of United General Practice Australia (UGPA), Ms Ley said the government would stick to the December 15 deadline for expressions of interest from…

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Doctors call for health care vouchers as patients walk out of emergency

More than 4,000 Tasmanians walked away from emergency departments without being treated by a doctor in the past year, but the Commonwealth was still slugged about $70 per patient, documents reveal. Right to Information documents show 2,148 patients were triaged at the Royal Hobart Hospital but left before seeing a doctor. About 1,500 did the same at the Launceston General Hospital, and 606 at the…

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Bulk-bill travel for GP patients

Three Northern regional medical centres that provide universal bulk-billing say patients are travelling from Launceston partly to save on medical bills. Practices at Deloraine and Westbury, branches of the same business, and another at Scottsdale report having clients travelling from Launceston attracted in part by universal bulk-billing. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ president Bastian Seidel on Friday warned universal bulk-billing had almost disappeared in the state’s…

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Health directory shows universal bulk billing has almost disappeared in Tasmania

UNIVERSAL bulk billing has almost been wiped out of existence in Tasmanian general practices and the situation is likely to worsen, says the head of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Online appointment bookings and directory service HealthEngine lists more than 70,000 practices and currently has just 15 Tasmanian general practices listed as providing bulk billing to all patients. A HealthEngine spokeswoman said the…

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ACT after-hours doctor claims rise by 1200%

Home doctor visits in the ACT have gone up almost 1200 per cent in just three years at a cost to the taxpayer that GPs have warned is unsustainable. The number of claims for urgent after-hours home visits rose from 1588 in 2013-14 to 13,791 the next financial year — the first full year of operation of the bulk-billing National Home Doctor Service in the…

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Rebate freeze sees bulk-billed GP visits fall fastest in Tasmania

Bulk-billing rates in Tasmania have fallen faster than in any other part of the country, and will continue to drop until the Medicare rebate freeze is lifted, a GP has warned. Across the country, the number of GP visits being bulk-billed has declined as fewer doctors make the free consultations available and patients avoid medical care due to out-of-pocket expenses. New figures showed that since…

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Bulk-billing data ‘flawed, misleading’

GP bulk-billing figures used to justify the Medicare freeze are so riddled with confounders as to be meaningless, according to an expert analysis. The true proportion of bulk-billed GP consultations may be as low as half the government’s claimed 85%, said Margaret Faux, a lawyer and CEO and founder of a medical billing company. Yet the government has continued to use the numbers to defend the freeze,…

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Medicare statistics show bulk billing is falling

BULK billing has begun to decline creating concern the Federal Government’s freeze on Medicare rebates is starting to impact on free visits to the doctor. The latest quarterly Medicare statistics show the proportion of GP visits bulk billed fell from 85.9 per cent in the three months to July to 85.4 per cent in the three months to September. News Corp Australia has reported on a number…

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The nation’s sickest patients could be at risk after a massive Medicare shake-up

THE nation’s sickest patients could be at risk after a massive Medicare change will see their GP visits cut back — and doctors are unimpressed. THE nation’s sickest cancer patients and people with diabetes and other chronic illnesses will get a maximum of $1795 worth of GP care a year funded by Medicare under a revolution in the way doctors are paid. And Medicare will…

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Need a mental health tune-up? Seeking help is cheaper than you think

Gone are the days of stigma about seeing a psychologist – many Aussies seek professional help to cope if they’re feeling stressed or blue, and part of it is thanks to Medicare rebates for psychology sessions. If you’re struggling emotionally, you can go and see a GP for a Mental Health Treatment Plan that allows you to see a psychologist six to 10 times per…

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Bulk billing shake-up

The proposed shake-up of bulk billed GP home visits that could see families paying for doctors after hours – a service that is currently free. But while some say the scheme is essential, others say it is just a cash cow for medical providers. Department of Health statement regarding tonight’s story:  Expenditure under the Medicare Benefits Schedule for the Urgent After Hours Attendances have more…

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Sugar tax: Doctors call for sweet drink levy to tackle obesity in Australia

By medical reporter Sophie Scott Sugar-sweetened drinks should be taxed and obesity renamed a chronic disease, according to a coalition of Australia’s most influential doctors’ groups. The Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges, representing bodies including the Royal Australian College of GPs, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, has developed a six-point obesity action plan to tackle what it…

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Summer time: What illnesses should we look out for?

The hot season brings its own Aussie traditions such as lazing on the beach, jumping in the pool, a lazy afternoon barbeque — and its own special ailments and illnesses. “Summer is meant to be the the holiday season for us doctors, but patients certainly keep us very busy,” Dr Bastian Seidel, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners told 702 ABC Sydney. Here…

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Backflip over Health Care Homes visit limit

The federal government has dropped its proposal to cap GP visits for chronically ill patients under its Health Care Homes scheme after a blistering reception from doctors. The RACGP said the Health Care Home trials had been “set up to fail” because of a decision to put a five-visit cap on benefits for HCH-registered patients seeing their GP for reasons not related to their chronic conditions.…

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Radical Medicare revamp will fail patients as Health Care Homes trial funding falls short, say doctors

A Medicare overhaul is set to introduce a tiered system for people with chronic diseases that would see the most unwell patients receive $1795 in GP visits to manage their condition. But doctors who have championed the revolutionary model say the government appeared to be cost-cutting, and it could fail from a lack of funding, leaving patients worse off. The first detailed blueprint of the…

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Intensive testing after early breast cancer ineffective

Intensive monitoring of asymptomatic women after treatment for early breast cancer doesn’t improve survival or quality of life, guidelines from Cancer Australia stress. Specifically, imaging such as chest x-ray, PET, CT and bone scans should not be recommended as part of standard long-term follow-up, nor should blood tests such as FBC, biochemistry or tumour markers, the guidelines said. Rather than being beneficial, unnecessary imaging and…

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Flagship bulk billing company Primary Health Care charges patients $100 to see a doctor

A FLAGSHIP bulk billing medical company is now charging patients $100 to see a doctor — despite Malcolm Turnbull promising Aussies wouldn’t pay more after his Medicare freeze. EXCLUSIVE IT USED to be the champion of bulk billed GP visits — now Primary Health Care is charging patients $100 to see a doctor in one of its clinics. That fee is $22 higher than the…

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The truth about medical tests: What you really need to know

Has your doctor suggested you get screened for vitamin D deficiency based on your age? The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia recommends you don’t. You’re better off having a conversation with your GP about your lifestyle. When you fainted, did your doctor send you off to have your carotid arteries scanned? The Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists says it was most likely…

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RACGP president Bastian Seidel says AIHW report shows alcohol abuse treatment is working

The head of Australia’s peak general practitioner body has praised the success of mental health treatment in Tasmania.  It comes after a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which found alcohol consumption has decreased, but more Australians are seeking treatment for alcohol and mental health related issues. 广告 The national report found alcohol consumption per person decreased from 10.8 litres per person in 2008-9…

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One in 10 parents do not trust GPs with their child’s healthcare: survey

Some parents do not trust GPs to manage their child’s health needs, and many GPs themselves are not confident treating chronic illnesses in children, research suggests. As Melbourne hospitals continue to be overwhelmed by large numbers of children, including some with minor problems, a survey of 600 parents has found close to one in 10 are not confident in a GP’s ability to care for…

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GPs angered by Ley’s silence over rent controls

General practice owners are furious that Health Minister Sussan Ley has yet to consult with them over rent controls that could cost the sector as much as $200 million a year. GP owners group chair Dr Sean Stevens told The Medical Republic that owners were not merely “ropeable” at the unilateral decision to cap the lease fees they could charge pathology companies for collection centres. The intervention…

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RACGP demands proof for bulk-billing rates claim

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel has challenged the government to prove its claim that bulk-billing rates remain at record highs in light of new evidence indicating a dip after the July election. “They could easily do it if they wanted to,” Dr Seidel told TMR, calling for the release of up-to-date Medicare data showing the real picture of general practice billing. “If we are going to talk…

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Anxious parents and GPs sending children to specialists unnecessarily

Anxious parents and time poor GPs are sending children to specialist doctors for constipation, bed wetting, and concerns about how tall or short they are, contributing to long waiting lists for care in public hospitals. New research has pointed to the trend which coincides with concerns many parents are bypassing GPs to take their children to hospital emergency departments for minor conditions. A survey of 73 paediatric…

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The health care revolution that will see Aussies enrol with a GP for all their medical needs — but not everyone is happy about it

IT’S being sold as a revolutionary new system of care that is the solution to Medicare’s troubles — but doctors aren’t buying it. DOCTORS will be paid just $8.90 extra per patient per month to deliver a revolutionary new system of care that will see patients enrolled with a single medical practice. The health care home model being touted as the solution to Medicare’s woes…

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GP bulk billing only applies to two out of three consults: survey

ONE in three GP consultations are not being bulk billed and these patients are paying an average $48 out of their own pocket to see a doctor, a new survey shows. ONE in three GP consultations are not being bulk billed and these patients are paying an average $48 out of their own pocket to see the doctor a startling new survey shows. The Royal Australian…

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Rule guides antibiotic prescribing

A team of GPs has developed a way to identify which children with respiratory infections can safely be treated without antibiotics Using clinical characteristics, the authors say they can classify children into those at low, medium and high risk of hospitalisation for respiratory tract infection. The rule, called STARWAVe, could also reduce antibiotic prescribing in primary care for children at very low risk of complications…

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Review reveals Medicare wastage gripes

Seeing a doctor just to get the all clear on a routine blood test is one of the gripes uncovered by a review to weed out wastage in the Medicare system.The interim report of a review into the Medicare Benefits Schedule ordered by Health Minister Sussan Ley has identified unnecessary surgeries and diagnostic imaging and pathology tests as areas of concern for patients and health…

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GP chief warns Tasmania needs more health funding to avoid costly hospital admissions

TASMANIA needs more investment in general practice in order to avoid costly hospital admissions, says the incoming president of Australia’s leading general practice organisation. Huon Valley GP Bastian Seidel will officially become president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners next month. He has already began a whirlwind tour, meeting various health stakeholders across the country, including Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley. “We talked…

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Continuity saves lives – here’s proof

Research has proven what Australian GPs have long been saying about the importance of continuity of care A prospective study proves what Australian GPs have long known – having a regular GP saves lives. The Dutch study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, provides the strongest evidence yet that continuity of care in general practice is associated with a lower mortality rate. The trial…

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Treating your kids with complementary medicine? Be diligent, warn doctors

Doctors have warned parents to get their GP’s advice if engaging the services of a complementary medicine practitioner for their child, after a four-year-old with autism was admitted to emergency following treatment by a naturopath. Reporting in the British Medical Journal in October, doctors said that the naturopath had prescribed 12 holistic supplements, including calcium, vitamin D and camel milk, and the child was admitted to hospital…

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Editorial: As long as you have your health

IN May, we published the story: “Health funding will be the key issue of the Federal Election campaign among Tasmanian voters, exclusive polling for the Mercury shows.” It reflected a similar poll 12 months earlier that had the same result. We editorialised that whichever party created the clearest narrative for the future of health and education deserved to govern. With regards to health, neither party did this…

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Tasmanian doctor heads GP group

GENERAL practitioners throughout Australia will soon be represented by Tasmanian doctor Bastian Seidel. Dr Seidel, a Huon Valley GP, has been elected president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and will officially take the role in September. The body boasts more than 32,000 members and represents more than 90 per cent of GPs in Tasmania. “My priority will be to communicate effectively that we need…

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Focus on primary care policy is hitting home

The RACGP’s next president, Dr Bastian Seidel, says the new national focus on primary healthcare policy driven by GP activism will have a lasting effect. The Tasmanian rural doctor, who came to prominence as national spokesperson for the RACGP’s #CoPayNoWay and #You’veBeenTargeted campaigns against attacks on GP funding, says the shift has been evident in the current federal election campaign. “In the lead-up to this election, we’ve…

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RACGP presidential candidates on eHealth: Bastian Seidel

UPDATE: RACGP members have elected clinical professor, telehealth expert and keen Twitterer Bastian Seidel as the college’s next president. He’ll take up the two-year role in September from Frank Jones. Here are his thoughts on eHealth, the My Health Record and communication between hospitals and general practice. As president, will eHealth policy be a priority for you or are topics such as the Medicare rebate…

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Federal funding reduction threatens Tasmanian mobile rural health service

Medical practitioners fear a funding reduction for a rural allied health services will put more pressure on Tasmania’s health system, with one mobile service expected to close in July. Funding for Tasmanian rural health outreach programs will drop from $4 million to just $1.5 million next month. Nursing practitioner Lisa Sproule runs one of the allied health services, providing occupational therapists, dieticians, nurses and speech…

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Medicos rally against Federal Government’s Medicare rebate freeze

HEALTH unions have sought to place public health firmly back on the Federal Election agenda with a rally to “save Medicare” in Hobart. More than 200 people gathered at the lunchtime rally, where health professionals told of their fears for the future of Australia’s universal public health system. Huon Valley GP Bastian Seidel said he was very concerned about basic healthcare becoming unaffordable for people…

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Antidepressants not a ‘quick fix’ for GPs: Mental Health Council of Tasmania

A LEADING mental health organisation has advised against general practitioners administering antidepressants as a quick fix. The Mental Health Council of Tasmania says GPs need to discuss treatments with patients first and foremost after the release of a research paper by the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health. The article found an increased placebo rate in the latest studies of antidepressants. ​It suggested medication treatment be combined with…

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Turnbull makes powerful enemy in GPs, as doctors rally patients to fight spiralling health costs

IT’S the issue that threatens to derail the PM’s election campaign, and making ordinary Aussies turn on the Government. GPs have launched a scathing attack on the Government’s changes to Medicare, and they may be Malcolm Turnbull’s most powerful enemy in this election campaign. Doctors say ordinary Australians will suffer the most under the rebate freeze, as medical practitioners stop bulkbilling and hike prices. With…

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Budget does not impress Tasmanian health groups

TASMANIAN doctors and nurses have spoken against the federal budget with a warning the state will suffer. Health Minister Sussan Ley’s decision to freeze the Medicare rebate for a further two years has drawn the ire of the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. RACGP councillor Bastian Seidel said bulk-billing would be unsustainable by 2020 as the cost of providing medical services…

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Will Health Care Home fail on the back of MyHealthRecord’s fail?

MyHealthRecord appears to be key to engaging with the ‘revolutionary’ Health Care Home Medicare reform, despite being plagued with problems and low GP uptake. “One is tied to the other,” according to Dr Steve Hambleton, chair of the advisory group that helped shape the pilot and current NEHTA chair. “I would think that a high-performing Health Care Home would want to opt in,” Dr Hambleton…

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Experts divided on antidepressant data

NEW data on antidepressants, which highlights patterns in mental health services and pharmaceuticals, has drawn a mixed response from experts. The ABS statistics, released in March, used 2011 census data to capture Australians accessing subsidised mental health services on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and/or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). It found 51 per cent of the 52,809 Tasmanians using antidepressants accessed the medications without other treatments.  ABS data also showed 64 per cent of Tasmanians…

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National Home Doctor Service questioned by GPs

THE peak body for general practitioners has warned that bulk-billed visits from the National Home Doctor Service may not provide value for money. The National Home Doctor Service released analysis this week it said showed that improved access to after-hours medical services resulted in reduced pressure on hospital emergency departments and overall lower costs. The report commissioned by the service suggested that states with higher usage of after-hours home visits had less…

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GPs reject ‘simplistic’ report

DOCTORS have raised concerns about a new report by independent think-tank the Grattan Institute that calls for an overhaul of general practice. Conducted by experts in health care and policy, the report claims $1 billion a year is wasted on writing and managing chronic disease plans and carrying out health assessments, as patients with chronic diseases fail to have their conditions monitored. Grattan’s research recommends…

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Paracetamol study to inform general practice on arthritis

Doctors have praised a new study which found paracetamol is ineffective on its own in treating osteoarthritis. Published in medical journal The Lancet, the study found paracetamol was only slightly better than placebo in reducing pain or improving physical function in patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis.  Bastian Seidel, chairman of Tasmania’s Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said the study was useful and would influence clinical decision making…

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Cairns parents warned of asthma risk as school term looms

STARTING school is scary enough without the added concern of a child’s asthma flaring up in the classroom or playground. The National Asthma Council Australia is warning parents that one in 10 schoolchildren with asthma will face a significant increase in the risk of asthma flare-ups or attacks and hospitalisation in the first few weeks of school. For Carmel Debel, it means additional preparations to…

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Drum interview: Stop politicising health care

One of the doctors who will review nearly 6,000 medical tests and services that receive Medicare and health insurance rebates fears that expert advice will be drowned out by politics. Dr Bastian Seidel has been nominated by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to be a part of a Government audit of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). He told The Drum that it would…

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Doctors expected to call on Government to stop attacks on Medicare

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is expected to call for the government to stop its attacks on Medicare when it meets with new Health Minister Sussan Ley. AMA president Professor Brian Owler was expected to meet with Ms Ley tomorrow to thrash out what was next for the health budget after the $20 rebate cuts for short visits were scrapped. Dr Bastian Seidel from the Royal…

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GPs hit out over Medicare changes

John Wilkins says he can earn a better living working two days as a locum than a seven days in his practice when Medicare changes come in. VETERAN Cygnet GP John Wilkins says he can earn a better living working two days as a locum than a full seven days in his practice, when Medicare changes come in on Monday. Dr Wilkins spoke out yesterday…

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Free heart screening for regional Tasmanians

The launch of a screening program for heart disease in Tasmania’s regional areas is being welcomed by country doctors. From next week, the free service will travel to regional communities as part of a three-year trial being conducted by the Menzies Research Institute. The Institute’s Professor Tom Marwick says 23 per cent of Tasmanians have heart disease, and early detection is vital. “We know that…

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