AMA supports ASA in MBS Discussions

Date: 7 September 2017

Many of you would be aware of the concerns surrounding the MBS Review of Anaesthesia items, which were raised with me via AMA Federal Council representatives, members and colleagues. 

Whilst the AMA maintains the policy that the Colleges, Associations and Societies (CAS) are best placed to respond to specific clinical and practice issues relating to the MBS, I have always sought to engage with the profession on broader issues of patient safety and proper process. These are issues the Government cannot ignore and where the AMA’s independent opinion has great impact.  

Thankfully, I can report that Minister Hunt has been consultative and highly engaged with the health sector. He and I speak most weeks and I believe he genuinely wants to be across the complexities of his portfolio.

A testament to his commitment is the result of recent conversations Minister Hunt and I had about the draft Anaesthesia MBS recommendations, where we discussed their potential impacts in depth. I am pleased to report that the Minister’s understanding of the profession’s views has translated into a productive outcome.

The Australian Society of Anaesthetists and the Minister are now discussing a way forward, hopefully to resolve their concerns with the MBS review.

The AMA will continue to broadly support the MBS reviews, and without hesitation intervene when recommendations introduce limitations that jeopardise patient safety or access to care, undermine overall clinical opinion or have restrictions that run counter to evidence-based best practice. We will also continue to highlight where we are aware there are concerns and even disagreement within the profession.

We will work to ensure relevant CAS organisations are aware of and engaged in the relevant MBS Review consultations and encourage their members to engage with the reviews and shape the narrative.

For example, the Obstetrics review both delivered in terms of increased funding to the sector and asking of doctors enhanced and evidence-based measures to improve patient care. The After Hours review demands accountability and a higher standard of care for patients.

Whilst there is much work ahead with the MBS reviews, I look forward to continuing a constructive relationship with the Government, representing the entirety of the profession throughout the process.

Dr Michael Gannon 
Federal President, Australian Medical Association (AMA)