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Stop cuts to holistic mental health care

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Stop cuts to comprehensive health care for those with mental illness.

The federal government has recently sent out letters to 341 General Practitioners requesting voluntary repayments for mental health consultations. The issue? Seeing a patient about a mental health issue and a physical issue at the same consultation. According to Medicare this should only occur if the physical issue is raised first. If the patient has come for a mental health consultation but raises concerns about a physical problem, work done towards the physical issue only attracts Medicare funding if “it is clinically indicated that a separate problem must be treated immediately” - immediately is undefined.

These letters come from the Medicare compliance department as part of a “nudge campaign”. Their intention is to induce fear and reduce Medicare costs, but the flow on effect will be to reduce the number of GPs who feel safe to look after people with complex mental and physical health conditions.

This specifically discourages the wholistic care of patients with mental health concerns.

According to Medicare, if you have physical health concerns AND mental health issues, you have to deal with them in that order. Not vice versa. It’s ridiculous to think that mental health issues present in isolation. In fact, we know that the burden of physical illness in this group is higher and yet - we are asked to deal with the mental and physical aspects of their health on separate days and are being specifically targeted if it is deemed we have provided comprehensive, joined-up, patient-centred care “too much”.

It takes a lot to open up to a GP. Now we are being told to say - sorry but I have to deal the rest of your issues on another day. This is a cut to already overburdened mental health care systems and the most vulnerable members of our society.

And worse yet it’s happening by stealth. This is your rebate, this is your Medicare. Say no. Sign this petition.