General Practitioner Information

– Making referrals to Healthfocus

Healthfocus Clinical Psychology Services accepts referrals from General Practitioners and Psychiatrists for privately funded psychological counselling, and under a number of State, Commonwealth and industrial programmes, including:

  1. Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule under GP Mental Health Care Plan. (see information panel below).
  2. RiskCover WA (Insurance Commission of Western Australia) for Motor Vehicle Accident related psychological treatment.
  3. WorkCover WA (for psychological treatment related to Workers’ Compensation Claims, funded by Employer’s insurer).
  4. Department of Veterans’ Affairs funded psychological counselling for current and former Defence service members.
  5. Comcare (Commonwealth programme for Workers’ Compensation).
  6. Employee Assistance Programmes – Healthfocus offers an Early Intervention Service to employers and employees
  7. Privately funded (employer, individual, other foundation/agency) (Note that no referral is required for attendance as a full fee paying private patient.)

GP Mental Health Care Plan

From the Department of Health Website:

“The GP Mental Health Treatment items in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) provide a structured framework for General Practitioners (GPs) to undertake early intervention, assessment and management of patients with mental disorders. The items enable GPs to refer patients to psychiatrists; psychological therapy services provided by clinical psychologists; or focussed psychological strategies (FPS) services provided by qualified GPs or allied mental health professionals.”

Referrals to Healthfocus under a GP Mental Health Care Plan (GPMHCP) follow this process:

  • GP completes and lodges GPMHCP (GP Medicare Item No. 2710). Note that there is no set format for a GPMHCP, but there are minimum requirements (see resources below).
  • GPMHCP must be lodged with Medicare prior to the patient’s first appointment with us.
  • GP sends a written referral to Healthfocus (required for patients to qualify for Medicare rebates). The initial referral enables the patient to receive Medicare rebates for the first 6 sessions of psychological treatment.
  • The patient then attends psychological counselling sessions with Healthfocus.
  • GP reviews the patient’s progress towards the GPMHCP goals by conducting a GP Mental Health Care Review (GP Medicare Item No. 2712).
  • If required, GP can extend the GPMHCP for up to a further 6 treatment sessions, noting that clients are only eligible for 10 Medicare subsidised sessions in each calendar year.

 

GPMHCP Validity, Renewals and Medicare Subsidy Caps

We have received enquiries from clients and GPs regarding the durations of GP Mental Health Care Treatment Plans and Medicare’s annual cap on the number of subsidised psychological counseling sessions available under the “Better Access” initiative. The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has an excellent Web page that describes the various requirements. We provide a summary here for quick reference:

  • A GP Mental Health Care Treatment Plan (GPMHCP) is required to access Medicare subsidies for psychological services.
  • A GPMHCP is valid for 12 months and is usually sent with the referral.
  • The initial number of psychological counselling sessions is usually 6, after which a GP review is undertaken. If the GP determines that further treatment is required, then further sessions can be specified after the review (up to 6).
  • There is a limit of one GPMHCP per 12 month period (from the date of the GPMHCP). Note that does not include the review (which is part of the original plan)
  • Separately, there is a cap of 10 sessions per calendar year for which a client can access the Medicare subsidy. It is not unusual for the 10 subsidised sessions and the number of sessions remaining under a GPMHCP to be “out of sync”.
  • When this happens, there are 2 common cases:
    1. GPMHCP is still valid and has remaining sessions, but the client is unable to access Medicare subsidy. This often occurs when the initial referral is early in a calendar year. In this case, the client can opt to attend as a private patient until the new calendar year, and the GP and psychologist will revisit the validity of the GPMHCP in the new calendar year; or
    2. The client has remaining Medicare-subsidised sessions available in a calendar year, but the GPMHCP has reached its end date. This sometimes occurs when the client’s treatment sessions are infrequent. In this case, a new GPMHCP is required and the GP may specify the number of subsidised sessions remaining in the calendar year or any number of sessions up to 6 (noting the calendar year caps already described).

 

Useful Resources
  • Healthfocus Referral form (without GPMHCP) PDF
  • Referral form and GP Mental Health Care Plan (GPMHCP) (fulfills Dept. of Health minimum requirements) PDF / .docx
  • Healthfocus Referral Form Templates for GP Practice Management Systems: Medical Director RTFBest Practice RTFZedMed RTF
  • Fact sheet for GPs for “Better Access” Medicare programme PDF
  • K10, DASS-42, DASS-21, IES-R screening questionnaires: Healthfocus provides a number of free to use, online, automatically scored questionnaires that may assist in initial assessment for referral. We also provide downloadable PDF “paper” versions for offline use

Quick Links

Referral form PDF

Referral form w/GPMHCP docx/PDF

GP Information & Tools

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