Removal of healthy kids check from MBS

From 1 November 2015, Medicare benefits for the pre-school healthy kids check (including the nurse item #10986) will no longer be available. See here for the MBS notification.

The Australian Government has cited a lack of evidence around the current system providing a higher quality service and the increased annual cost of delivering pre-school health checks as factors behind its decision to remove the healthy kids check MBS items.

The four year old health check remains a recommended child health assessment, which can still be undertaken in general practice settings using time and complexity based MBS items #23, #36, #44 (and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessment item #715). The health checks can also be undertaken by State and Territory funded infant health clinics, where available.

With these changes in mind there is debate around whether the rebates for these consults accurately reflect the work required to undertake a comprehensive childhood health assessment or support the non face-to-face work undertaken outside of the consultation.

  • Do you believe there will be a change in your health assessment rates for children in your area as a result of the Government’s decision?

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Mental health of young people

On 7 August 2015, the Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, released The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents, a report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. The report, described as the largest ever national survey of youth mental health of its kind in Australian history, follows on from the first national survey of the mental health of children and adolescent which was undertaken 17 years ago.

Some key highlights of the report are set out below:

  • One in seven children and young people experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months – the equivalent of 560,000 young Australians
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was the most common mental disorder in children and adolescents
  • Just over one third (35%) of 4-17 year-olds with a mental disorder had seen a general practitioner in the past 12 months
  • Schools provided services to 40.2% of the children and adolescents with mental disorders who attended them, and 5.6% had seen a school nurse
  • Around one in 10 12-17 year-olds (10.9%) reported having ever self-harmed
  • Females aged 16-17 years had the highest rates of self-harm, with 16.8% having harmed themselves in the previous 12 months
  • About one in thirteen (7.5%) 12-17 year olds had seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months.

While some of the information contained in the report is concerning, there are a number of positives, such as the large increase in the number of young people seeking help.

What is your experience of dealing with young people with mental health issues? Do you think there are adequate processes in place to identify mental disorders and provide the care and support needed?

11 November 2013

Since October 2013, there have been 27 measles cases in Australians, including 11 secondary cases, associated with travel to Indonesia, and more specifically Bali. It is vitally important all primary health care clinicians are kept well informed of the current state of the measles concern. APNA is a member of the General Practice Round Table (GPRT). The GPRT was established during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic to inform the Commonwealth’s response to the pandemic and support information dissemination to general practice during the response. The GPRT continues to provide mechanisms for communicating with general practice during disease outbreaks and other health emergencies.

APNA is represented at many forums and peak consultations across Australia. Through these opportunities APNA and its members remain informed and able to provide valuable contributions to national programs, policy and health reform planning. This week’s eNews captures information from several of these.

On Friday 8 November I chaired the Coalition of National Nursing Organisations (CoNNO) member meeting in Sydney. CoNNO is an alliance of 52 national nursing organisations working collectively to advance the nursing profession to improve health care. The Coalition represents the national interests of nurses in all sectors of the health profession. This meeting always provides a strong forum for networking and synergy between nursing organisations, and an opportunity for Government and national health bodies to address nursing collectively.

18-24 November 2013 is Antibiotic Awareness Week, a global initiative encouraging health professionals and the wider community to learn more about antibiotic resistance and the importance of taking these life-saving medicines appropriately. This Antibiotic Awareness Week, NPS MedicineWise is asking all health professionals to pledge to join the fight against antibiotic resistance. APNA is a member of NPS MedicineWise, which is an  independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit organisation providing practical tools and information about medicines, health conditions and medical tests for health professionals and consumers.

APNA remains supportive of eHealth and the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR). APNA actively provides extensive expert input into the ongoing development and clinical usability of the national eHealth record, and we are keen and committed to staying engaged in the delivery of the PCEHR, a very important mechanism to support continued improvements to health outcomes. The federal government has announced a review of the PCEHR, and APNA will be providing substantial input to this review.

Your thoughts are very welcome at president@apna.asn.au.