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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
Getting the balance right for AMA members can be tricky – the interests of GPs and specialists sometimes do not always align precisely. Although at times, one or the other group might complain about the direction in which the AMA leans, the Association always strives to strike the right balance. And as the Chair of the General Practice Group, it is my job to ensure the voices of GPs are heard loud and clear.
The AMA as the peak body for our profession is a “broad church” – our strength is that we can genuinely say we represent the whole profession and as such have unparalleled reach into politics and bureaucracy that no other medical organisation can get anywhere near achieving.
So what does that really mean for us as individual practitioners and as GPs? It gives us an incredibly powerful advocacy platform. Whilst the AMA can offer discounts, deals and other benefits, what your membership is really buying is expert, targeted advocacy and power.
Sometimes I am asked why I spend time representing the AMA. It is a reasonable question – almost everything I do for the AMA is unpaid, taking countless hours of time and I lose many thousands of dollars’ income in doing so.
The answer is a bit like why do we become doctors – in most cases, it is “to make a difference”. I would like to see a better healthcare system for both practitioners and patients. I want to see General Practice cemented where it should be at the heart of this, and GPs respected, encouraged and rewarded for providing quality, cost-effective care and prevention that improves lives and saves huge costs. We have the potential to be truly the envy of the world in healthcare – and General Practice is (and must be) central to all of this.
I have had a great career as a GP. I have a deep commitment to ensure that my younger colleagues can have just as wonderful and rewarding a time as I. This cannot come without fighting for it and the strongest advocacy for what is right, just as those who came before fought for me.
The power and backing of the AMA have given me a great opportunity to fight for you all as GPs and raise awareness of the value of what you do at many levels of both State and Federal government. I am doing this because I believe that what you and I do is important, and recognising and rewarding it will lead to a better outcome for all Australians.
My own belief is that the more we can work productively with governments, the better results we can achieve. This requires skill, patience and in many cases, a willingness to compromise. Sometimes it is better to get an imperfect result and take a step forward than gain nothing at all.
Most reform in healthcare is incremental, but the end result can be a powerful change if we have the right vision and follow it.
Of course, it also demands at times that we call out unacceptable behaviour and fight it as hard as necessary. The proposed St John’s Urgent Care Centres, partially funded by the Federal Government is a good example. The AMA has been unflinching in calling these out as subsidised competition for local GPs. Particularly as the recently launched Urgent Care Clinic Network is a solution developed through effective AMA and State Government collaboration. You will also remember our successful fight with the pathology rent crisis that threatened to destroy the viability of many general practices a few years ago.
There are many other areas where the AMA is pushing your interests and defending your practice, some of which are visible and some you will never be aware of, as we have fixed it before it even saw the light of day.
I hope that by highlighting what the AMA can do for you, I have convinced you that your membership fees are paying for themselves many times over. And if you are not currently a member, that you feel it is worth joining, as our power lies in numbers and representation. Together, we can make your future not only more secure, but happier, more rewarding and more profitable. This is my vision and why I am chairing the AMA (WA)’s General Practice Group.
Please contact me at any time: Simon.Torvaldsen@amawa.com.au