Stop attack on general practice or we'll repeat UK experience: AMA

Britain’s National Health Service is in crisis as patients swamp emergency departments, causing blowouts in waiting times and forcing hospitals to cancel operations, call in extra staff and ration access to care, the Australian Medical Association says.

AMA vice-president Dr Stephen Parnis has warned similar scenes could be repeated here unless the federal government stops its “attack” on general practice.

Changes to Medicare, unveiled last month, include a $20 cut to the Medicare rebate for GP Level B consultations lasting less than 10 minutes, from $37.05 to $16.95, which comes into effect on 19 January.

A further $5 cut to GP rebates comes in from 1 July, on top of a near-six year freeze on Medicare rebate indexation.

Dr Parnis says these changes will lead to increased out-of-pocket expenses for patients and higher health costs.

He says the UK experience shows that when governments cut investment in primary