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Notice given 7 March 2005

366  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) How many general practitioners have registered to participate in the ‘Better outcomes in mental health care’ initiative.

(2) What is the total amount of expenditure for these one-off payments when a general practitioner (GP) registers for a course.

(3) How many GPs have participated in: (a) level 1 training (6 hours - how to assess and plan); and (b) level 2 training (20 hours - teaching psych therapy).

(4) How many of these trained GPs have claimed the relevant Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) rebate items.

(5) (a) What has been the total expenditure on the Better Outcomes MBS items 2574, 2575, 2577, and 2578; and (b) can that expenditure be broken down by year and on a geographical basis.

(6) On average, how much income per annum is a participating GP receiving from these items.

(7) Why is funding directed through a general practitioner, who may have comparatively little training in this area, rather than through, for example a psychologist or similarly highly-trained professional.

(8) Upon completion of this training, how is a GP’s competency evaluated.

(9) Given that there is no requirement for any clinical supervision of GPs when they commence providing mental health therapy, how does this initiative ensure that GPs are providing appropriate standards of therapy when they commence treating people.

(10) Has any investigation been undertaken into the quality of mental health treatment that is being provided, particularly in comparison to what may have been provided by a more highly trained mental health professional; if so, what was the outcome of this investigation.

(11) Has patient satisfaction with this program been evaluated; if so, what were the outcomes of this evaluation.

(12) (a) Can the Government confirm that the expansion to the Better Outcomes project announced during the 2004 election alluded to expanding the Allied Health Services component; and (b) what consultation has been undertaken.

(13) (a) How much of the $30 million will go to mental health workers for providing therapy; and (b) how much will go to GPs.

(14) Is the Government considering expanding the number of sessions or range of people with mental health conditions for which mental health professionals would be able to access MBS rebates.

(15) Is the Government investigating models of access to mental health professionals which do not rely on a referral by a GP.