Doctor’s leave – July/August

Our doctors are taking some short periods of leave:

Dr Jenny Lonergan  4-9 July

Dr Annabel Kain 11-18 July

Dr Patricia Walton 18 -29 July

Dr Cara Frame 1-5 August

Dr Chris Ganora 4 August – 26 August

This leave will be covered by the other doctors in the practice, and your regular doctor will hand over to another doctor if they expect you need specific follow up during these periods.

 

Increase to consultation fees

Medicare rebates provided by the government do not cover the full cost of providing you with medical care. This is because for over 20 years the indexation rate for Medicare Schedule fees has been substantially lower than increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and average weekly earnings.  Medicare rebates have been frozen since 1 July 2014 and will not be increased until 1 July 2020.  (For more on this see our previous post).

The fees we charge have to cover all of our practice costs including employing staff, rent, medical equipment, electricity, computers and insurance. All of these costs increase annually. We don’t want to compromise care to our patients by seeing more patients quickly. We also want to be accessible to everyone in our local community.

From 3 July 2016 our most common consultation fees will increase as follows:Read More

Flu Vaccine still available

Winter has arrived, but there is still time to get a flu shot. This year’s flu vaccine is effective against 4 strains of influenza.
gettheflu

Flu vaccine can be given to anyone over the age of 6 months who wants to reduce their risk of a serious influenza infection, but is particularly recommended for these groups of people who are eligible for government funded (free) vaccines in 2016:
  • People aged 65 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait people
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged six months and over with medical conditions such as severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes that can lead to complications from influenza.
We have stock of free vaccines from NSW Health and are able to provide other patients a flu vaccine for a fee of $20.  You can make a booking with our Practice Nurse if you have no other medical issues at this time, however it’s a good time to see your doctor to check on your chronic medical conditions as well.

 

Make sure we have your up-to-date email / mobile recorded at the practice so we can keep you informed in relation to important matters concerning your health.

 

You don’t have to wait until business hours to book your next appointment!

You can now book online from our website:

www.erskinevilledoctors.com.au

Or  call 9557 2266 during working hours to make an appointment

 

 

My Health Records

my health record
My Health Record is a Commonwealth Government initiative to allow patients to create a personal online e-health record that contains important medical information for health practitioners to access in different locations. This can be particularly useful for patients with chronic medical conditions who see a number of specialists and sometimes require hospital care.

Your GP will be able to upload a Shared Health Summary to your Health Record. This will list your allergies, medications, significant medical conditions and immunisations.

Currently the My Health Records are also collecting information about:
• Medicare items claimed
• PBS medications prescribed and dispensed,
• children’s immunisation records
• Australian Organ Donor registry information

We have been advised by the Local Health District that hospitals are also ready to upload discharge summaries. In the longer term pathology and radiology reports will also be uploaded to your My Health Record.

Erskineville Doctors is already set up to access and upload information to your MyHealth Records. You can register for MyHealth Records at www.myhealthrecord.gov.au and if you already have a myGov account it can be linked to this account.

We can arrange assisted registration for our regular patients if you fill out a form giving us permission. You will need to have your Medicare card and photo ID for us to do this. Forms are available in our waiting room.

Once your registration is done you will receive a code (IVC) via SMS or email to access your health record online. You will be able to:
 add personal health notes and emergency contact details
 register your children for a My Health Record
 set privacy controls to allow you to control what information is uploaded and who is able to look at your record.

For more information about the privacy of your health information go to www.oaic.gov.au/individuals/faqs-for-individuals/health/resources-on-health-for-individuals.

Disclaimer: Erskineville Doctors does not administer the My Health Record program. This is a summary based on information available at https://myhealthrecord.gov.au. Patients are asked to read more detail at this website. Patients should review their medical records with their doctor before any information is uploaded to their MyHealth Record.

Medicare indexation freeze

In 2014 the Government put a freeze on indexation of Medicare rebates for four years from 1 July 2014 until July 2018. In the Federal Budget this week they announced extending this freeze until 2020.

Freezing Medicare rebates for four years is simply winding back the Government’s contribution to patients’ health care costs. In practice it means that the $37.05 rebate you currently receive for a standard consultation will not increase at all until 2020. The relative value of this and any other medical rebates will decline significantly over time, as businesses providing medical care will likely increase fees in line with the increased costs of running a business.

The chart below shows you how little Medicare rebates have grown in the past 30 years compared to other economic indices such as the CPI.
indexation freeze

Rebates are frozen across the whole sector, and will include GP, Specialist service, medical procedures and also pathology and imaging (the rebates for those services have not increased in 15 years). The proposed funding for hospitals will prop up existing services, which we know in some areas of medicine are quite patchy (eg. non-existent public outpatients clinic in many specialities).

What it all adds up to is less money being given back to you to cover your medical costs. It also reduces the capacity of small businesses such as Erskineville Doctors to bulk-bill our less well-off patients. We aim to be a practice that is for everyone in our local community, and we pride ourselves in already being what the government is now calling a “healthcare home” for all of our patients and their families, not just those with chronic and complex health needs. We don’t want to reduce the quality of your care by rushing you through appointments.

We will be writing to the major parties about these budget proposals now and in the lead up to the Federal Election. We urge you to take the time to read the detail of these proposals and make up your own minds, and write your own letters as you see fit.

Some useful sources of information:
https://ama.com.au/media/prof-brian-owler-ama-tv-2-july-2015-medicare-rebate-freeze
http://yourgp.racgp.org.au/Your-GP/antifreeze (see the bottom of the page for draft letter to Sussan Ley, Minster for Health)
https://croakey.org/health-budget-analysis-part-1/ – for wider discussion of budget implications for health

Pregnancy Care

First pregnancy visit

Your options for care during pregnancy include the public hospital clinics or Birth Centre,  private obstetric care, or shared care with the hospital and your GP.

Regardless of the care you decide on for your pregnancy, you should see your GP in early pregnancy, by about 7 weeks from your last period, to organise some early tests, make the relevant referrals, advise you on managing early pregnancy symptoms and check on your general health. It’s a good idea to make a long appointment for this first visit.

Antenatal Shared Care

If you choose to have shared care with Erskineville Doctors and the hospital, you will have a booking visit at the hospital between 12-18 weeks, and an obstetrician will review you around 20 weeks to confirm your suitability for shared care, ie. that your pregnancy is low risk. Check ups will be with your GP or the hospital over the course of your pregnancy.

Resources

NSW Health Having a Baby

RPAH Women and Babies – includes online booking form for first antenatal appointment.

RPAH patient resources

Royal Hospital for Women patient resources

Problems in early pregnancy

If you are less than 20 weeks pregnant and experiencing pain or bleeding you can attend the Early Pregnancy Unit located in the RPAH Emergency Department at any time or the Early Pregnancy Assessment Service on Level 5 at RPAH, at 7.30am on Monday to Friday.

Nausea and Vomiting in pregnancy 

Medications in pregnancy Mothersafe can be contacted to discuss any issues with medications. They also have a useful list of factsheets about managing coming problems in pregnancy that might require medication.

Linking family members for online appointments

We hope you are finding it convenient to book your appointments online via Appointuit, our online booking system.

If your children under 18 are on your Medicare card,  you can link them to your Appointuit account to be able to make online appointments. Please contact our Practice Manager at reception@erskinevilledoctors.com.au to organise this, or leave a message via our receptionists.

If you wish to link any other family members, we can also organise this for you.

See the Appointuit  Support Centre for other FAQs, and please let us know if you are having any problems so we can try to assist. Remember to download the app to make it even easier to book, cancel and reschedule appointments – Read More .