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 Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, claims to be the first dedicated snapshot on GP treatment of child mental health issues over four decades.

Better Access, which offers rebates for GP mental health plans, was introduced in 2006 but is being scaled back – with some rebates cut by almost half – to save $400 million from next week.