AHPRA has revealed that close to 200 doctors who have been working in general practice for more than ten years have been asked to prove they are qualified GPs following an administrative bungle dating back to 2010.
Last month, Australian Doctor was told a dozen doctors were currently being investigated by the regulator to determine whether they had mistakenly been given specialist GP status back when the national registration scheme was first created.
If they fail to satisfy AHPRA, they face being stripped both of their specialist status and their patients’ access to higher Medicare rebates.
But AHPRA is remaining tight-lipped on how many other doctors have already lost the right to call themselves GPs.
It has only said that following an audit, it identified “a small number (fewer than 200)” doctors who may have been wrongly practising as GPs.
It would not give any further figures but confirmed some were able to demonstrate their eligibility, while others “tardily volunteered to surrender their specialist registration”.
AHPRA said its register of medical practitioners created a decade ago had relied on data matching processes, including datasets from the specialist colleges and Medicare, which were later found to contain errors.
GPs whose eligibility for specialist registration could not be confirmed were asked to provide evidence, such as fellowship with either the RACGP or ACRRM.
Proof they held vocational registration with Medicare on 30 June 2010 or specialist registration via one of the previous state or territory regulatory bodies also counted, it said.
Whether GPs stripped of specialist registrations would lose access to higher Medicare rebates depended on their individual circumstances, said the Department of Health and Aged Care.
However, generally, non-specialist GPs registered before 1 November 1996 and not on the vocational register would have access to medical practitioner items — the so-called A2 rebates — unless participating in certain workforce or training programs, such as the Medicare Plus for Other Medical Practitioners program.
The rebates operate at about 60% of the rebates available for specialist GPs.