President’s Blog: Healing the Rift | AMA (WA)


President’s Blog: Healing the Rift

Friday March 8, 2024

You would be aware that we hit a significant bump in the road last week, when AMA Federal opted to terminate the membership of AMA (WA) members from AMA Federal. You will have seen the response from our Board Chair, Dr Mark Duncan-Smith.

I do not intend to go over the arguments and counter-arguments again, other than to reiterate our obvious disappointment with the approach taken by AMA Federal, during what we believed to be an improving, good-faith negotiation process. I wish to also restate our Board and Management’s commitment to ensuring continued service delivery to our members, and timely resolution of our negotiations with AMA Federal.  

This week, we held a member forum, advertised in Dr Duncan-Smith’s email last week, to provide clarity and enable members to air their views and ask questions. As expected, it was well-attended and generated significant debate. Although difficult questions were asked, I was buoyed by the interest shown by the many ex-State and -Federal AMA Presidents, Vice-Presidents and other attendees who have contributed significantly to our activities over the decades. The passion from this group for a sustainably strong AMA (WA) and AMA Federal was clear. The General Practice voice was also very strong, with a clear desire expressed for AMA (WA) members to continue supporting the advocacy of AMA at a Federal level, which is of particular relevance in GP, as well as other Medicare-dependent specialties.  

Whilst this reaffirms the Board’s view – that a strong, sustainable AMA Federal of which we are part is important – it was nonetheless important for us to hear directly the disappointment of our members with this outcome. Clearly, each of the two parties to this ongoing negotiation needs to reflect (without engaging in excessive or time-consuming self-absorption) on what needs to change to get to the outcome that we both desire. We need to refocus our approach and strategy, and with this I am optimistic of a good result for all our members.

Your AMA (WA) Board meets this Monday to discuss this in more detail, and will continue meeting at least weekly, with regular contact in-between, for the foreseeable future. We will provide regular updates as we go, noting that some of the more detailed aspects of active negotiations require confidentiality to respect the rights of both parties.  

Thank you for your support during this unusual and difficult time. You have the Board’s unanimous and unwavering commitment to a positive resolution.