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Six-minute GP consultations mooted: report

A taskforce has reportedly proposed setting a minimum of six minutes for GP consultations to ensure bulk-billing practices don’t pass patients through too quickly.

The current standard sets 20 minutes for a consultation with the GP receiving a $37 rebate but does not set a minimum, with fears some of the big practices are churning through patients at a rapid rate, News Corp Australia reported.

The proposed change is contained in a leaked Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce report obtained by The Sunday Telegraph.

However, the Australian Medical Association says it would send the wrong message that six minutes is a baseline for consultations. It also does not address the key issue of a lack of funding for general practice, AMA president Dr Tony Bartone said.

The report has not been presented to the government, a spokesman for the health minister said.

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  1. As a octogenarian retired nurse academic I wonder if much could be achieved in a 6 minute consultation anyway?
    Especially with patients in their declining years when multiple problems appear regularly.

    • If an otherwise healthy young individual presented with a “classic” conjunctivitis following a swim in the local river on the weekend I would not need 60 seconds, let alone 6 minutes, to diagnose them. Another minute or two to suggest they pick up some Chlorsig from the pharmacy, provide some basic eye care advice, and to reiterate the usual disclaimer to return if not improved and they’re done!

      Such is the hazard of tarring all situations, and patients, with the same brush.

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