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Calls to scrap ‘needless’ repeat referrals to specialists

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association says Australia’s referral system to specialist care is outdated and needs to be reassessed.

AHHA chief executive Alison Verhoeven says when Medicare referral rules were put in places in the 70s they mostly related to acute conditions which could be managed with in a year.

“Now referrals are typically for management of an ongoing chronic condition—around 50% of Australian adults live with an ongoing health condition,” Ms Verhoeven said.

‘So the standard 12-month referral will expire during your ongoing course of treatment and you will be asked to go back to your GP to get another referral.

‘If a patient is seeing more than one specialist, keeping track of the validity of all referrals can be a nightmare,” she said.

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