Last-minute plea to govt: place moratorium on mental health cuts

DOCTORS have made a last-ditch call on the federal government to freeze planned cuts to GP mental health rebates so it can consider a Senate inquiry report into the controversial cost-cutting measures.

The Senate is this week due to publish its findings from almost 700 written submissions and several days of hearings from Australia’s biggest mental health bodies.

The report comes just two weeks before the unpopular Better Access cuts to GP rebates, and to subsidised sessions for patients under the program, are set to take effect.

Doctor groups have railed against the cuts, with AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton last week writing to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Health Minister Nicola Roxon with a petition of 4400 signatures – from doctors, other health professionals and patients – calling for the mental health cuts to be stopped.

Dr Hambleton said if the government would not restore the rebates, stripped to fund other