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'Please make sure EPC items are not simply a waste of precious GP time and Medicare budget'.
This is the message to federal health minister Nicola Roxon from Queensland GP, Dr Peter Stephenson.
Disputing the cost-effectiveness of the EPC items, the Narangba, Queensland- based doctor tells Ms Roxon he does not want to be paid for unnecessary paperwork. “I want to be paid for getting people better and preventing them getting sick. Paperwork prevents the already over-stretched workforce of GPs from seeing patients.”
Questioning the need for mental health plans, Dr Stephenson says: “If the patient needs to see a specialist, I can simply refer them with a referral letter. I will refer patients to services that I believe will benefit them but filling in new mental health plans are deleterious to my own mental health.”
He says that the few plans he has competed have caused him feelings of anxiety due to the fear of charging an item number that may inadvertently have the potential to be found fraudulent.
“If we need mental health plans to send a patient to a psychologist, why are we not having specialist referral plans for specialists?” asks Dr Stephenson.
I couldnt agree more. EPC is simply making what would be a normal referral process into a costly taxpayer subsidised scheme. It certainly is a double standard when the same process is not applied to 'specialist' referrals from GPs.
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