3.           About the MBS Review and the process for reviewing the after-hours items

The Taskforce (membership and Terms of Reference at Attachment A) is undertaking a program of work—the MBS Review—that considers how the more than 5,700 items on the MBS can be aligned with contemporary clinical evidence and practice and improve health outcomes for consumers. The Taskforce will also seek to identify any services that may be unnecessary, out-dated or potentially unsafe.

The Taskforce is committed to providing recommendations to the Minister for Health that will allow the MBS to deliver on each of these four key goals:

     Affordable and universal access

     Best-practice health services

     Value for the individual patient

     Value for the health system

The Taskforce has established a standard review methodology whereby the clinical review of MBS items is undertaken by clinical committees and working groups with memberships comprising clinicians, consumer representatives and other experts who are appointed as individuals rather than as representatives of particular organisations.

Draft reports and recommendations from these groups are released, under the authority of the group, for broad public consultation. The relevant group considers feedback from stakeholders and then provides recommendations to the Taskforce in a review report. The Taskforce considers the review report and stakeholder feedback before making recommendations to the Minister for Health, for consideration by the Government.

The process for the review of urgent after-hours items differs in some respects from the standard approach outlined above, in that the After-Hours Working Group (the Working Group) which conducted the review was a subcommittee of the Taskforce rather than a semi-autonomous clinical committee. Also, and importantly, the Working Group’s membership included, among others, members representing the four major general practice bodies: the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACCRM) and Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA). The members of the Working group are listed at Attachment B.

Because of this structure, this report and recommendations are from the Taskforce and are based upon its review of the evidence and the advice of the Working Group.