AMA (WA) President’s Diary

AMA (WA) President’s Diary

Monday 17 February 2014


Meeting with Minister for Health


AMA (WA) President, Dr Richard Choong, met with Dr Kim Hames in late January this year. The following Agenda items were discussed. For additional information on any of these topics, email the AMA (WA).


Memorandum of Understanding

Dr Choong discussed compliance issues regarding the Memorandum of Understanding between the Minister and the AMA (WA)over clinical privileges, conduct and governance in non-teaching hospitals. The MoU ensures that health service facilities provide services to the community informed by advice from the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) and utilising essential medical practitioner expertise in the planning of clinical activities and, among other things, maintenance of high clinical standards. The AMA (WA) is concerned at proposed structural changes at Rockingham and Armadale hospitals without consultation with medical practitioners or MACs that threaten long-standing practices which have been extremely effective in reducing wait lists for simple procedures.


Visiting Medical Practitioners

Issues around ongoing contracts for Visiting Medical Practitioners (VMPs) were also discussed as long term practitioners are not being offered contracts.


Pharmacists Administering Vaccinations

The latest edition of Medicus magazine features an article highlighting Queensland Government plans to allow Pharmacists to administer flu shots at Queensland pharmacies. A pilot program is due to begin at the commencement of the 2014 influenza season. The AMA has strongly criticised the trial for a number of reasons, primarily that Pharmacists are not qualified to administer flu vaccines. Dr Choong advocated for WA Government action to prevent community pharmacies in WA giving flu vaccines.


Other issues discussed included the proposed Curtin Medical School and the AMA (WA)’s concerns that our health system cannot accommodate additional medical graduates in the foreseeable future. Dr Choong also sought confirmation from the Minister as to the total number of Junior Medical Officers that the Department of Health is committed to employing at the Midland Hospital.


Public Health matters discussed included an update on Government progress on solarium bans in WA. Victoria, NSW, SA, Tas and the ACT have co-ordinated in a strategy to ban solariums as of 31 December 2014. The AMA (WA) has urged the Minister to take immediate action to ensure the complete ban in WA of these cancer causing tanning beds.


An update on the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Tobacco Control Act review was sought, given important Government commitments that have not yet been delivered.


Workers Compensation & Injury Management Act


The Workers Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981, which underpins the entire Workers’ Compensation System in WA, has been amended on a piecemeal basis since 1981. There are now moves by Government to develop a new workers’ compensation statute.


As part of the review process, WorkCover WA completed an internal review of the Act and has recently released a discussion paper which it hopes will facilitate consultation with stakeholders. The Association invited to comment on the discussion paper. Whilst most of the proposals are not contentious, there were a few areas which the Association believed were likely to cause concern amongst medical practitioners. With this in mind the Association sought feedback from doctors in the form of a short survey which allowed practitioners to voice their concerns on the proposed changes to the legislation.


The response to the survey was fantastic with over 100 practitioners providing feedback. The information gathered from the survey formed the basis of a preliminary submission which the Association submitted to WorkCover on 7 February. If necessary, a more detailed submission will be made after the Association has reviewed the draft legislation.


Dr Choong met with the Director General of the Department of Commerce, Brian Bradley, to discuss the Association’s concerns regarding the proposed changes to the legislation. It was evident from discussions at the meeting that the Association would have many more chances to provide input into the legislative review as the process progresses, and that, as a major stakeholder, the Association could expect to be consulted on all matters which would affect the medical profession.


Dr Choong will be meeting with the Head of Workcover on 19 February to further discuss the Government’s intentions in its review of the statute. The AMA (WA) awaits the next step in the review process and will keep all practitioners informed of any developments.


Contact Nicola Roman at the AMA (WA) for further information.




Dr Choong represents the AMA (WA) on the WA Immunisation Strategy Implementation Steering Committee. At its February meeting, the Committee analysed the latest quarterly immunisation data for WA and set geographic priorities for improving our immunisation rates. This strategy incorporates increasing awareness amongst immunisation providers regarding immunisation coverage rates in their region and ways of following up on overdue and under-immunised children. Dr Choong updated the Committee on proposed WA legislation governing vaccination requirements in WA child care centres and highlighted the Minister for Health’s commitment to the establishment of a working party to make appropriate recommendations around mirroring new NSW legislation banning unvaccinated children from child care centres.


Contact Chris Kane at the AMA (WA) for more information the AMA (WA)’s strategy aimed at increasing immunisation rates in WA.


Meeting with Minister for Mental Health


Dr Choong and AMA (WA) Psychiatry representative, Dr Alexandra Welborn, met with the Minister for Mental Health and representatives from the Mental Health Commission to discuss AMA (WA) concerns around the Mental Health Bill and the general state of mental health services in WA.


Dr Choong had recently met with WA Psychiatrists and sought additional feedback from those unable to attend a formal meeting. Overwhelmingly, Psychiatrists responded that their main issues were around workforce, ineffective bureaucracy, the lack of beds and Psychiatrists in the public sector and in leadership roles and problems associated with mental health patients in Emergency Departments.


Dr Choong highlighted with the Minister the need for consultation with the medical profession around the Mental Health Services Plan and made clear the need for an additional 72 Psychiatrists in WA in leadership roles, community Psychiatry and forensic services.


The Association had previously communicated to the Minister its concerns around the Mental Health Bill, specifically regarding the increased administrative burden inherent in its processes. The Minister undertook to provide a detailed response with information around the implementation phase if the Bill is successfully introduced through Parliament. Information will also be forthcoming confirming proposed bed increases and the timeframes for their introduction.


For further information, or to comment on the AMA (WA)’s mental health strategy for 2014, contact Chris Kane.

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