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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
During the past year, the AMA (WA) Industrial Team has been active on several fronts and has achieved much for salaried specialists.
WA Health Job Cuts
Both the Minister for Health and the State Premier have alluded to the potential for significant job cuts across the WA Medical Workforce. The AMA (WA) anticipates medical practitioners will not be spared. We are working tirelessly to try and establish the exact number of FTE that the government proposes to cut and how they plan to implement the cuts. The AMA (WA) opposes any reduction in FTE in the health system. Any such cuts will place an unacceptable burden on our already overworked health workforce and will ultimately compromise patient safety.
Restructuring of South Metropolitan Health Service
During the restructuring of SMHS, involving the opening of Fiona Stanley Hospital and the reconfiguration of Fremantle and Royal Perth Hospitals, the AMA (WA) received many calls for assistance resulting in a decision by the AMA to conduct a survey of doctors’ opinions and experience about commissioning the operation of FSH. A meeting was held at FSH to discuss the significant range of issues raised in responses.
The AMA has been active in seeking resolutions to issues raised and also made both verbal and oral submissions to the State Government’s Parliamentary Inquiry into the transition and operation of services at FSH.
The AMA has also been active in managing a number of disputes at both FSH and RPH resulting from the restructuring of services.
Cashing in leave
The AMA (WA) has successfully negotiated an agreement with DOH to have Arrangement A private practice income allowance and professional development allowance included in the cashing out of excess annual and long service leave. The allowances can be paid as if the leave was taken and not paid out. Back payment is also available to any practitioner who has accepted a cash payout since October 2013 when the DOH introduced its policy to encourage cashing out of excess leave.
Success with back payments for call back work for orthopaedic surgeons
The AMA (WA) successfully argued in the Industrial Magistrates Court in March 2015 for back payment of call back monies owed to orthopaedic surgeons employed under the Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery Roster Agreement (“the OTSR Agreement”). The decision will also be applied to plastic surgeons employed under the Plastic Surgery Roster Agreement.
Securing entitlements for doctors transferred from Swan District Hospital to SJOG Midland
Negotiations to secure fair contracts for doctors offered employment at St John of God Midland (SJOGM) have to date been successful and entitlements to be paid to doctors transferring from Swan District Hospital to SJOGM have also been successfully negotiated. In addition, the AMA (WA) assisted doctors with contracts offered during the transition period and negotiated arrangements to suit doctors in a range of circumstances including retaining employment in the public sector.
The AMA (WA) has also secured the rights of transferring doctors under the fair work laws to continue to be covered by the Department of Health (Metropolitan Health Services) AMA Industrial Agreement 2013 (the AMA Agreement) until its nominal expiry date.
A log of claims has been served on SJOGM for a new agreement to apply to doctors employed at SJOGM after the expiry of the MHS Agreement. Negotiations will take place in 2016 for the new agreement.
Memorandum of Understanding
On 7 July 2015 the President of the AMA (WA), Dr Michael Gannon, signed a new 3 year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Health Minister, Dr Kim Hames.
The signing of the MoU represents a significant achievement by the AMA (WA) and the first occasion in many iterations of the MOU where the Minister has signed a new MOU before the current version has expired.
The MoU governs matters relating to access, medical input into hospital policy through Medical Advisory Committees, clinical privileges and conduct processes and is the product of many years of negotiation by the AMA (WA).
The revised MOU retains key issues:
The AMA (WA) strives to strengthen mechanisms for medical input and the rights of doctors to compete for access and be fairly assessed.
0.75 Part Time Contracts
The AMA (WA) have discovered that the Department of Health is offering 0.75 (60 hours) part time contracts to staff in a number of Hospitals. This is in clear breach of the AMA Agreement where the minimum term that a part time contract can be offered is 0.8 (64 hours). The effect of the breach is to deprive a practitioner of 4 hours pay per fortnight and in some cases restrict the amount of non clinical time these employees have access to.
What is of concern is that the Department could have approached AMA (WA) under a provision within the AMA Agreement to negotiate these types of arrangements. It would seem they have deliberately decided to bypass the AMA Agreement and take matters into their own hands.
The AMA (WA) have raised this in the context of another dispute before the WA Industrial Relations Commission.
The AMA (WA) has been discussing with the DOH proposed changes to the air travel policy to ensure doctors on self-funded travel are not exposed to onerous bureaucratic requirements including disclosing personal expenses incurred.
The AMA (WA) has surveyed all practitioners in Western Australia requesting their feedback and experience on sexual harassment in the workplace. Whilst the response was overwhelming, it has highlighted major issues that exist within our medical workforce in WA. The AMA (WA) has committed itself to a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy in relation to sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and is in the process of engaging with all relevant employers and stakeholders to advocate for increased accountability and efficient training and reporting procedures. Whilst this issue has been particularly topical in 2015, the AMA (WA) recognises that this is a long standing issue that can only be tackled through a significant cultural shift in the medical workforce. As such, the AMA (WA) has made a longstanding commitment to challenge this issue and push for greater accountability and transparency.
Negotiating 2016 claims for the public sector
The AMA (WA) has surveyed members to seek feedback on key issues and priorities for the next round of bargaining to commence early in 2016. Armed with the feedback received and in consultation with the AMA’s Inter Hospital Industrial Liaison Committee and the Doctors-in-Training Committee, the AMA’s industrial team is preparing a comprehensive claim in the form of new agreements to replace:
The industrial team will post Industrial Updates on the website keeping members informed of progress with the development of the claim and throughout the negotiation process.
Negotiating 2016 claims for private sector
The AMA (WA) will commence consultation with members employed under private sector enterprise agreements early in 2016 to seek member feedback about key issues and priorities for replacement agreements. The relevant agreements are: