Medicare Local action will disenfranchise many general practices

Medicare Local action will disenfranchise many general practices

Some Medicare Locals still don’t get it. Australian Doctor Magazine reported last week in an article titled Medicare Local threatens AMA that yet another Medicare Local is trying to add ‘search and seize’ clauses to after hours service contracts with GPs. These clauses give Medicare Locals the power to attend the practice and conduct an audit…

Meanwhile our own Medicare Local has issued another hefty document: a 22 page long Request for Tender for after hours care. As mentioned before our practice has been providing after hours care for many years, yet we now have to go through an onerous tender process to receive funding for this community service.

In the latest AMA GP Network News, AMA GP chair Dr Brian Morton wrote:

This Request for Tender (RFT) is a stunning example of how well intentioned policy has been completely bureaucratised. Practices have gone from a relatively simple application form under the old PIP system to a burdensome process that will disenfranchise many general practices and see GPs walking away from after hours services. Once they are gone, it will be hard to get them back.

Perhaps even more stunning is the appointment of one of the country’s most high profile consultancy firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), to assist in the assessment of tenders from local practices. I am not sure how in touch with local conditions PwC is and I am sure local GPs would like to know how much this is costing.

It seems to me that one of the biggest winners from the Government reforms to GP after hours funding has been consultants. While the Government has provided additional funding, one has to ask how much of this has been diverted away from supporting front line GP services for patients. Hopefully, the current review commissioned by the Government will give some answers. Certainly, if the Coalition is elected we expect that it will undertake a root and branch review of these types of issues.

Couldn’t agree more.

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