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Doctor's surgeries are reportedly turning away mental health patients and children because stagnating Medicare rebates do not cover the cost of complex consultations.

 

Instead the system perversely encourages GPs to churn through 10 patients an hour, it has been claimed.

 

Australians can see a doctor for free at bulk-billing clinics, but the president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners said it is common for longer appointments to be refused because they are not financially viable.

 

Dr Seidel said longer consultations were better for patients, as they allowed doctors to talk through health issues, making them less likely to prescribe medication.

 

Yet most bulk-billing centres offer standard consultation times of just 10 or 15 minutes. Record numbers of Australians are now using their services, with the bulk billing rate at 85.8 per cent.

 

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is calling for all Medicare rebates for GP consults to be increased by 18.5 per cent. They are also calling for a new payment of $163 for consultations lasting an hour or more.

 

A spokesman for federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the request had been referred to the Medicare Benefits Schedule taskforce to investigate.

 

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[Source: The Sydney Morning Herald]


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