Queensland election puts physiotherapist direct specialist referral in the spotlight

28 January 2015

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is calling on all Queensland parties to guarantee support for legislative change to enable physiotherapists to refer direct to specialists with a Medicare rebate if elected this weekend. The change would lead to $13 million in savings nationally each year(1).

Currently, patients are unable to receive a Medicare rebate if a physiotherapist refers them direct to a medical specialist. Physiotherapists must refer to a General Practitioner for patients to qualify for the rebate – with the extra doctor visit carrying a Medicare cost, taking up the patient and GP’s time and resources, and patients also carry the cost of gap payments.

APA Queensland President Richard Newsham-West has written to all political leaders on behalf of 3,300 Queensland physiotherapists seeking support for this legislative reform, which was detailed in the APA’s Pre-Budget Submission for 2015-16  – along with other demands for how leaders would ensure a healthier Queensland.

“We have been pleased to see the Newman LNP Government confirm they’ll pursue this issue within Queensland hospital and health services for physiotherapists to refer to specialists, and hear the ALP share their verbal support,” Mr Newsham-West said.

“We’ll be urging whoever’s successful this Saturday to stick to their promises and see this change – enabling better health outcomes for patients and the healthcare system – come into effect.”

The APA also urged Queensland leaders to improve physiotherapy access for rural and remote communities, to further invest in and support advanced and extended practice physiotherapy roles, as well as committing to sufficient remuneration, retention and professional opportunities for physiotherapists. It also requests support of the APA’s plans to promote limited prescribing rights for appropriately credentialed physiotherapists. All requests are detailed via the APA’s website.

The APA’s Pre-Budget Submission for 2015-16 was sent to all State and Federal health ministers.  

For further information, or to speak with an expert physiotherapist, please contact:

Katie Croft - Australian Physiotherapy Association
P: (+61) 3 9092 0891 M (+61) 0413 780 545
E katie.croft@physiotherapy.asn.au

(1)  Joshua M. Byrnes A C and Tracy A. Comans A B. Medicare rebate for specialist medical practitioners from physiotherapy referrals: analysis of the potential impact on the Australian healthcare system. 23 October 2014. A Centre for Applied Health Economics, Griffith University. Meadowbrook. Australian Health Review – viewed at: http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/AH13196.htm on 24 October 2014