18 December 2018

Ongoing infectious syphilis outbreak in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in northern and central Australia

The Department of Health (DoH) advises that cases of infectious syphilis continue to be diagnosed in outbreak regions in northern and central Australia, particularly in males and females aged 15–29 years.

The rapid and widespread nature of the outbreak, and high mobility of the at-risk population, may result in spread to new non-outbreak areas.
GPs are encouraged to:

  • test all young people annually for sexually transmissible infections (STIs)
  • test all young people with another STI (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, mycoplasma genitalium) for syphilis and HIV
  • test all asymptomatic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people for syphilis at least annually in outbreak affected areas
  • treat and test all symptomatic cases of STIs immediately
  • treat all cases of infectious syphilis within two weeks of diagnosis and encourage all sexual contacts of cases to get tested
  • test all cases of infectious syphilis for HIV
  • follow up cases for repeat syphilis serology at 3–6 months following treatment.

Visit the DoH website for further information on the infectious syphilis outbreak, clinical resources and community engagement resources.

DVA Gold Card for doctors and nurses who provided medical treatment and training in Vietnam during Vietnam War

RACGP members are advised of changes to Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) treatment benefits. 

Federal Treasurer the Hon Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs the Hon Darren Chester have announced the provision of a Gold Card for Australian civilian surgical and medical teams that provided medical aid, training and treatment to local Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War. 

From 1 July 2020, all doctors and nurses who meet the criteria will be eligible for the DVA Gold Card. 

The DVA Gold Card will provide access to medical treatment for all conditions.

The measure coming into effect is dependent on the introduction and passing of legislation.
Visit the DVA website for more information.

eHealth Practice Incentive Program payment and compliance

The DoH will be writing to general practices that received the eHealth Practice Incentive Program (ePIP) payments for the November 2017 to January 2018 quarter but did not meet their minimum shared health summary upload targets for this quarter. It is expected that practices will begin receiving these letters in early December 2018.

Practices that engage with compliance activities can request an exemption on the basis of compelling circumstances, including ongoing technical difficulties beyond their control. Affected practices will be asked to review their own records and voluntarily return any ePIP incentive payments to which they were not entitled during this period. In considering lodging an exemption request, practices should note:

  • the DoH will require evidence to substantiate their claims (including emails from software providers, if necessary, and screenshots of uploads for the quarter ( ensuring no patient information is identified)
  • software issues should be accompanied with evidence that the impacted practice attempted to rectify the issue with the software provider in the payment quarter period
  • site certification issues are not an acceptable reason for exemption. It is the responsibility of practices to ensure their certificates are valid
  • internet connectivity is not an acceptable reason for exemption. Services that do not believe they will reach their targets should opt-out of the payment quarter via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS).

GP practice owners with compliance concerns can email epip.compliance@health.gov.au for further information, or visit the DoH website.

Media enquiries

Journalists and media outlets seeking comment and information from the RACGP should contact:

John Ronan

Senior Media Advisor