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better access

The following articles have the tag better access

GP mental health plans under scrutiny

AUSTRALIA’S mental health system is “a collection of often uncoordinated services... with no clarity of roles and responsibilities or strategic approach”, a review of programs and services has reported.

Action urged on mental health report

Action urged on mental health report

THE report of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services calls for a strengthened role of GPs in mental healthcare, but MBS payments for GP mental health plans could be targeted.

Co-payment support builds

SUPPORT appears to be building for the controversial proposal to introduce a $6 co-payment for bulk-billed GP services.

Better Access instrumental in treatment spike

NEW research has credited the Commonwealth’s Better Access initiative for a significant jump in treatment rates of Australians suffering mental illness.

Sharp decline in mental health related GP visits

GROWTH in mental health related GP visits has slowed sharply despite an overall trend showing more Australians are seeking mental health treatment, new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show.

ML suspends mental health services

ML suspends mental health services

THE funding shortage affecting GP-referred mental health services has hit election heartland with a Medicare Local (ML) in Sydney’s west forced to suspend Access To Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) referrals due to overwhelming demand.

Plea for more help with natural disasters

THE department of health has defended its funding arrangements for GP-led mental health services offered through Medicare Locals (MLs) after the RACGP called for extra resources in areas affected by natural disasters.

Behind the news – Better Access cuts

When the federal government slashed funding for the successful GP-led mental health scheme Better Access, it claimed the savings would go into a bigger and better Medicare Local-run scheme, Access To Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS). But two years later, ATAPS seems to be nearing its financial ceiling with at least one ML freezing its use of the scheme due to overwhelming demand.

Alarm over mental health funding

A SECOND Medicare Local has been forced to stop referring patients to the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) scheme because of a huge increase in demand, sparking calls for an overhaul of mental health funding.

GPs frozen out of mental health funds

A GP-referred mental health service in a designated District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) has been frozen because the scheme has run out of money.

Renewed claims GPs are 'glorified' mental health care referrers

Renewed claims GPs are 'glorified' mental health care referrers

EXPERTS have defended GPs from a renewed claim that cuts to rebates for care plans under the Better Access program were the result of doctors becoming disengaged with mental health care.

Better Access cuts mean less time for care: survey

ALMOST half of GPs have cut mental health consult times, reduced bulk billing for mental health visits and cut use of Medicare mental health items following the federal government’s reduction in Better Access rebates, according to a Medical Observer-commissioned survey.

Surveillance increasing for early prostate cancer

ALMOST half of men diagnosed with low risk prostate cancer are being treated with surveillance only, new Australian figures show, amid continued controversy about PSA testing.

Steep suicide decline labelled an ABS ‘spin’

A SENIOR mental health leader has criticised the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for announcing a decline in suicides over 10 years, saying the bureau ignored the likelihood that rates have risen in recent years amid the global economic downturn.

Suicide decline an ABS 'spin'

Suicide decline an ABS 'spin'

A SENIOR mental health leader has criticised the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for announcing a decline in suicides over 10 years, saying the bureau ignored the likelihood that rates have risen in recent years amid the global economic downturn.

Better Access cuts fallout: bulk billing of care plans plummets

WARNINGS that the federal government’s cuts to the Better Access mental health program would impact patient access have been supported by new figures suggesting the number of mental health care plans bulk billed has more than halved.

Better Access failing to reach half of most needy

LESS than half of patients with chronic, recurrent depression are receiving specialist care – a fact researchers from the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) say illustrates the failings of the Better Access system.

Queensland ML doubles GP mental health services referrals

IN ONE of the early signs of more mental health resources going to GPs since the unpopular Better Access cuts, a Queensland Medicare Local has doubled the number of referrals doctors can give for mental health services.

Better Access 'still falls short'

EATING disorder groups have joined GPs in criticising the federal government’s partial reversal of cuts to Better Access MBS rebates, saying the move “still falls short” of what is needed.

GPs snubbed again in latest Better Access move

GPs have been dealt a fresh blow with the federal government partially backing down on its controversial cuts to the Better Access scheme by reinstating the available number of visits to psychologists but failing to reinstate GP rebates.

Mental Health Minister Mark Butler

Too late for public input into mental health cuts: adviser

A FORMER federal government mental health adviser who quit over cuts to MBS rebates has criticised the government for waiting until the cuts were in place before asking for public input into its 10-year mental health strategy.

RACGP president Professor Claire Jackson & AMA Council of General Practice chair Dr Brian Morton

GPs reveal big issues for 2012

A CHANGE of health minister hasn’t blunted the anger of GPs over the government’s Better Access mental health cuts, which will be one of the big medico-political issues of 2012, according to a Cegedim survey conducted for Medical Observer.

Better Access cuts will go back into mental health: Roxon

HEALTH Minister Nicola Roxon has given GPs a guarantee that every cent saved through the controversial cuts to the Better Access scheme will be reinvested elsewhere in mental health services.

Consult GPs on mental health cuts: RACGP

THE RACGP has called for the federal government to hold “continued consultations” with GPs about slashing mental health rebates after a pivotal Senate report failed to make any unanimous recommendation about the move.

Senate inquiry ignores GP role in mental health: AMA

THE undermining of GP involvement in mental health care through the slashing of Better Access rebates has been ignored by a key Senate inquiry examining the impact of the government’s cuts to the program, the AMA has claimed.

Nurse practitioners claim $700,000 in MBS services

NURSE practitioners (NPs) have claimed more than $700,000 in MBS services during the first 11 months since the profession was granted access to Medicare rebates in November last year.

Rebate cuts jeopardise GP role in child mental health

CHILDREN’S mental health visits to GPs have risen dramatically under the Better Access program and cutting the rebates would leave the profession’s role in child mental health care in doubt, new research suggests. An analysis of Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) data by the research project’s own authors also suggests GP involvement in child psychology has become less prescription-focused under Better Access as the family doctor plays a more active ongoing role in the mental health care of young Australians. The study, published in the latest Australian and New ...

Psychologists join criticism of govt cuts to Better Access

AS SCRUTINY of the controversial cuts to the Better Access scheme continues in the Senate this week, the federal government has come under renewed fire from psychologists over the changes. In a statement released this morning ahead of his appearance at the Senate inquiry into the government’s handling of mental health, Psychologists Association secretary Quentin Black called on the government to “end its attack” on mental health services. Under government budgetary measures announced in May, existing MBS rebates of $163.35 for a GP mental health plan will be cut to $85.92 for a ...

Doubt cast over Better Access ‘success story’

A REPORT trumpeting the success of the $1 billion-plus Better Access mental health program has failed to win over many experts, despite a rise in the number of Australians accessing psychological care. Evaluation of the program shows more than two million Australians have received Better Access services since it started in late 2006. “This groundbreaking program has done more than meet initial expectations – it is now one of the success stories in mental health,” Australian Psychological Society executive director Professor Lyn Littlelfield said. The report, released last week, includes modelling by the Department of Health ...

Positive findings of Better Access report questioned

EXPERTS are questioning the findings of a report on the beleaguered Better Access mental health program which shows improved outcomes for people treated under the scheme. The evaluation of the $1.45 billion Better Access program, conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne and University of Queensland, was released by the Federal Health Department this week. It showed more than two million Australians have received Better Access services since the program started in late 2006. A survey of Better Access users – recruited by GPs, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists – showed they moved from ...

Mental health access program failing the needy

A SENIOR Government adviser and mental health expert has warned that the contentious Better Access to Mental Health Care program has failed to meet its aims despite its ballooning costs. Professor Ian Hickie, a member of the Government's National Advisory Council on Mental Health and executive director of the University of Sydney's Brain & Mind Research Institute, has called on the Government to urgently overhaul the program. His comments, made on the ABC's AM program this morning, come as Mental Health Minister Mark Butler was set to release a long-awaited review of the program today. Professor ...

Figures expose worst of Better Access inequities

THE Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative has come under renewed scrutiny with recent figures stoking criticisms that the program is failing rural Australia. A long-awaited evaluation of the program is scheduled for release by the end of the year, however uncertainty surrounds the exact date.  A Melbourne study has added weight to claims that city-based patients benefit most from the scheme. Eighty-two per cent of the 2.44 million sessions delivered through the program in its first 21 months were urban and just 18% rural, the analysis showed. This contrasted with the ...

Psychologist’s data backs Better Access

THE Better Access mental health scheme has been unfairly criticised and held to unreasonable standards, according to a Victorian psychologist, who says his data proves the program’s worth. Presenting a review of 1118 patients treated under the Better Access scheme, Chris Mackey last week hit back at ongoing criticisms that the multimillion dollar program has been helping the “worried well” and neglecting men and youth. Over a third of patients referred to his practice in Geelong, Victoria, were younger than 29, and about a third were men, he told the recent 11th International Mental Health Conference in ...

Better Access unlikely as co-payments increase

A government review of the Better Access scheme has revealed anecdotal evidence that psychologists and psychiatrists have substantially hiked their fees since the program was introduced in 2006.  The Better Access interim review – completed in May 2009 but only recently released – confirmed psychiatrists and psychologists rarely bulk-billed, which put mental health services out of reach for those unable to pay.  The review noted the average co-payment for an initial psychiatric consultation under the Better Access scheme was $68.41. In rural areas, the average co-payment is in excess of $80.  RACGP president Dr Chris Mitchell said ...

Shift mental health funding: expert

GOVERNMENT funding for mental health initiatives must be shifted from the Better Access program and into the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) scheme if the nation’s neediest are to get access to psychological care, according to a leading mental health advocate. Professor Ian Hickie, executive director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute, said when compared to the Better Access scheme, ATAPS provided a better avenue to reach people who were young, on low incomes or in rural areas. “The balance between Better Access and ATAPS is clearly wrong,” he said. “To have 95% ...