AMA Proposes Better Health Care for Refugees
Apr 11, 2005 - 8:31:38 PM

Senior AMA GPs are calling on the Government to give refugees and new immigrants access to a comprehensive health assessment by a general practitioner.

At its meeting in Canberra over the weekend, the AMA Council of General Practice (AMACGP) discussed the need for a separate Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item number to provide quality health care for people who are beginning or seeking to begin a new life in Australia.

AMACGP Chair, Dr Rod Pearce, said a new Medicare item would assist refugees who have experienced trauma and danger gain access to a proper comprehensive health assessment as soon as possible.

"Most refugees entering Australia have had a basic health check in their country of origin, but this screening is not comprehensive and may have been conducted months or years before they actually arrived here," Dr Pearce said.

"Refugees usually have had limited health care in the past, are unlikely to have their medical records with them when they arrive, and they may not speak English.

"A thorough health assessment is as important to Australia as it is for the people seeking to enter Australia.

"While the patient's physical and mental health is being assessed by the GP, they are being screened for infectious diseases that could spread to the Australian community," Dr Pearce said.

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