GPs Must Update Registration to Continue Receiving Medicare Benefits

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​The Commonwealth Department of Health introduced legislation that changes how GPs access Medicare benefits earlier this year. As a result, GPs previously registered as specialists need to update their status with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to continue receiving benefits such as access to Medicare A1 rebates.

According to the organisation, GPs must do this before 30th April. Additionally, practitioners who wish to claim the higher Medicare rebates for patients should apply for specialist registration before the Vocational Register closes on the 15th of June.

GPs can confirm their registration by visiting the AHPRA website and searching for their name or registration number. Registered practitioners will see “Specialist Registration” and “Speciality: General Practice” under their profile.

The entire process was streamlined to support GPs, and so, it has minimal steps. The RACGP will provide evidence of fellowship to the agency, so practitioners only need to fill out their registration. Furthermore, unregistered individuals can expect emails from AHPRA with details on how to proceed. According to the agency, the email may also be followed by a call from Services Australia.

Both the AMA and RACGP have urged GPs to register so as to maintain their access to Medicare benefits.

Read: Podcast Transcript: Joey Calandra - former Director, Strategic Partnerships & Engagement at PSA and current Innovation leader

AMA President Urges GPs to Prioritise Pfizer Vaccine for Patients Under 50 Years

In an address released on the 15th of April, AMA president Dr. Omar Khorshid expressed the organisation’s devotion to tackling problems with the Vax rollout as they arise. He also praised GPs for their efforts and promised to “get [them] the support and recognition they deserve.”

In his address, Dr. Khorshid also admitted that the recommendation by ATAGI to prioritise the Pfizer vaccine over AstraZeneca for people under 50 years “left GPs in a very difficult position.” He stated that while the AMA supported the independent decision, it changed the landscape overnight since the Pfizer vaccine remains in limited supply.

Dr. Khorshid also addressed the issue of medical indemnity for GPs, stating that the Medical Defence Organisations have assured the AMA that doctors are covered by their policies. The Commonwealth also gave written assurance that it will take steps to protect practitioners if the vaccines lead to an unusual number of patients claims in the future.

Developing Blood Clots from Covid-19 is More likely Than from the J&J Vaccine - Dr, Purvi Parikh

Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York-based Immunologist, stated the temporary discontinuation of the vaccine shows that the safety checks are working. She also made the shocking revelation that individuals are more likely to develop clots from the Covid-19 virus than they were from the vaccine.

Dr. Parikh, who has worked as an investigator for several Covid vaccines, including Pfizer, is also a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU.

When asked about recommendations for future use, Dr. Parikh stated that the “The pauses are completely normal … [As more people are being vaccinated], pauses will occur. I think they are the right move, that way, we know for sure it’s safe to move forward.” She, however, stated that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks when looking at the big picture.

Read: Australians React to the AstraZeneca Vaccine

GPs get Covid Vaccines but No Syringes

GP clinics in Sydney finally received their Covid-19 vaccinations last week, except for a small caveat - insufficient needles. As a result, they are forced to use their own supply of needles and syringes to vaccinate their long list of patients. According to one GP, the Federal Health Department claimed to have exhausted its syringe supply.

Despite these challenges, Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists that administering at least one shot of the vaccine to all Australians by the end of 2021 remains a possibility, even if the rollout doesn’t go exactly as planned. “At this stage, there are too many uncertainties, I think, to commit to a timetable like that… The states would need to be sure they could put those arrangements in place and ramp them up and do that safely,'' he said in an interview.

Mr. Morrison also announced that two National Cabinet meetings would be held each week to get the plan back on track. The prime minister attributes the delays to a cascade of glitches that began with border closures and the delayed arrival of 3 million doses from Europe.

However, the government also warned that there are no guarantees that borders will reopen after the rollout. According to Health Minister Greg Hunt, “If the whole country were vaccinated, you couldn’t just open the borders. We still have to look at a series of different factors: Transmission, longevity [of vaccine protection] and global impact.”

Read: GPs Receive Quarter of the Requested Dosage as Vaccine Roll-out Ramps Up

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