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AMA (WA) | A Fair Go

The five key claims WA Health does not think you deserve

Tuesday November 3, 2020

Since March 2019, the Australian Medical Association (WA) and WA Health, represented by System-Wide Industrial Relations Service (SWIRS), have been engaged in negotiations to replace the WA Health System – Medical Practitioners – AMA Industrial Agreement 2016.

Throughout the negotiations, the AMA (WA) has sought to develop a shared understanding and acknowledgement of all of our claims.

 

On 7 October 2020, the Director General of Health, Dr David Russell-Weisz wrote to the AMA (WA) seeking our perspective on the status of  the Department’s offer for a replacement Agreement. The AMA (WA) has rejected the offer. This is why…

1.Permanency

Why the Doctors deserve this

The current contract renewal system is used as a pseudo performance management tool and in many instances is used as a tool to engage in state-sanctioned bullying and intimidation.

What WA Health has offered

✖ “Automatic roll-over of contract if practitioner has not been given 12 months’ notice of its expiry.”

✖ Inserting a statement that “the written notice will include reasons for the decision”.

Why we cannot agree

  • This is not automatic. It still allows the employer to simply send a non-renewal letter 12 months prior to the expiry of the contract.
  • Inserting a statement that “the written notice will include reasons for the decision” does not address the inherent fear and concern about non-renewal, which is at the heart of practitioners feeling reluctant to speak up about patient and workforce safety. The WA Health Minister’s survey in 2019 demonstrates that 58 per cent of WA doctors are too fearful to voice their concerns.
  • “Operational requirements” will become the go-to-reason.
  • No justification has been provided as to why WA medical practitioners should be the only public sector doctors in Australia who do not deserve job security through permanency.

 

2.Portability and retention of leave entitlements

Why the Doctors deserve this

Doctors in training (DiTs) are a unique group of public sector employees who invariably will need to interrupt their service with WA Health in order to pursue training or professional development opportunities, with health services other than WA Health, e.g. St John of God Health Care, Ramsay Health Care, interstate or overseas.

What WA Health has offered

✖ Ability to apply for “leave without pay”, at the discretion of the employer.

✔ Recognition of continuity of service with state-contracted entities for the purposes of access to paid parental leave and long-service leave.

✖ DiTs will lose the right to have their accrued leave recognised when they progress to senior classifications.

Why we cannot agree

  • The concept of leave without pay requires the existence of a contractual relationship, from which to take leave. DiTs have contracts for generally 12 months or less, after their initial three-year contract term, which is when this leave would most likely be required.
  • Trusting the granting of leave to the employer’s discretion will result in unfair and inconsistent treatment of practitioners across the different health services/departments.
  • Practitioners are already entitled to paid parental leave if they served 12 months continuously with WA Health at some point in time. Recognition of continuity of service with state-contracted entities for the purposes of access to paid parental leave and long-service leave provides a benefit soley to those who have only worked with a state-contracted entity.

 

3.Specialists recognition for all specialist registered doctors

Why the Doctors deserve this

A consultant/specialist is defined in the AMA Agreement as a medical practitoner who holds the appropriate higher qualification of a university or College, recognised by the Australian Medical Council (AMC). Fellows of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) are recognised as specialists by the AMC and registered as such by AHPRA. Similarly, vocationally registered GPs who were registered under s3F of the Health Insurance Act 1973 are registered with AHPRA as specialists. Despite this, WA Health continues to refuse to recognise and pay practitioners as such, even where the position specifically requires the applicant to hold RACGP or ACRRM qualifications.

What WA Health has offered

✖ WA Health has proposed a revised classification structure for rural GPs only, and not to the equivalent level as other consultants under the AMA Agreement.

Why we cannot agree

If a practitioner holds specialist registration, they must be recognised as a specialist. WACHS, in particular, places enormous reliance on GPs as the main workforce, and benefits tremendously from their broad skill levels.

 

4.Revision of on-call and recall provisions

Why the Doctors deserve this

The application of the current on-call and recall provisions are consistently inconsistent amongst and even within health services.

What WA Health has offered

✖ Refusal to engage on the part of WA Health.

Why we cannot agree

All parties would benefit from clear and unambiguous provisions in the AMA Agreement.

 

5.Rolling of “A” for all purposes of the agreement

Why the Doctors deserve this

Arrangement A practitioners are currently paid shift, weekend and public holiday penalties, as well as contract completion payments, leave on termination and paid parental leave, calculated on the Arrangement B salary only.

What WA Health has offered

✖ Refusal to consider, based on cost.

Why we cannot agree

Currently payslips incorrectly reference practitioners’ B salary, and provide for an additional lump sum paid as “Arr A Salary”, but without reference to the number of hours that this is applied to, raising questions about the compliance of WA Health’s payslips with legislative requirements. It also perpetuates the incorrect belief that leave paid out on termination should be paid at the lower Arrangement B rate. However, leave liability is calculated on the basis of the Arrangement A salary and doctors taking leave are correctly paid the Arrangement A rate.