#341 Workplace Relations update
1 September 2021
AMA Victoria has recently been approached by members raising concerns over the way many private hospitals are pressuring doctors to accept contracts to treat public patients at rates well below the rates for private patients, due to the expected capacity issues at public hospitals.
While we encourage doctors to try to reach agreement with the private hospitals, we would like to emphasise the following points:
- Doctors who are contracted to provide services to private hospitals can negotiate the rate of pay. Private hospitals have the ability to pay more than the MBS rates if they choose.
- AMA Victoria has not agreed to any deal between the Federal or State Governments and private hospitals.
- If doctors cannot get agreement on the rate to treat public patients, they have the choice not to treat those patients.
We understand that there are additional costs that are incurred by doctors running private practices and the way private hospitals process patients through their system is very different to a public hospital. We will be lobbying government and private hospitals to make sure that patients are treated as if they were in the public system and that doctors are compensated at a level that makes it viable to treat public patients.
We are able to help members negotiating their individual contracts by giving advice on the terms, but we cannot be seen to be acting collectively. Contractors have the ability to directly affect their individual terms and conditions, so we suggest that members contact our Workplace Relations team and ask us to review what they have been offered. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on (03) 9280 8722.
Bonded Medical Program update
The AMA Federal WR team is continuing work to hasten the progress for many members still facing uncertainty about their Bonded Medical Program applications. This includes those who applied for opt in but are yet to be accepted and those who were incorrectly opted in.
The issue surrounding doctors who had their program exit confirmed, only to find out they were still bonded legally, has now been resolved in most cases.
The AMA continues to meet with the Federal Department of Health (DoH) about these issues on a regular basis. We are not satisfied with progress up to this point, given the elapsed time and effect on our members’ health, wellbeing and career choices. We will continue to push for the outstanding issues to be addressed as quickly as possible.
The Federal DoH has posted the ‘August 2021: Update on the Bonded Medical Program’ here on its website.
The update provides information on:
- the Department’s progress
- how individuals can help determine eligible RoSO count
- information for participants seeking to opt in
- more flexibility for participants of bonded programs
- program information webinars
- support from Rural Workforce Agencies
- the new email arrangements
This, and earlier updates – together with the FAQs and webinar presentation slides available on the website – are a valuable source of information to answer questions that members may have.