Communications and advocacy update: 7 September
7 September 2023
Here’s an update on a few of the issues AMA Victoria is working on for members, including:
- College policies regarding applying for and sitting examinations whilst on parental leave
- Concerns regarding VCAT- Medical Report Template - Guardianship List form- update
- Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 implementation
- WorkSafe’s 52 Medical and Like Entitlement Review (52 MLER).
College policies regarding applying for and sitting examinations whilst on parental leave
We are continuing our campaign to change the policies of certain colleges excluding trainees who are on parental leave from applying to sit and sitting fellowship examinations. In our view, policy change that allows trainees who are on parental leave to apply to sit and to sit for fellowship examination would promote a culture of inclusivity, diversity, and equal opportunity.
Most recently, we have contacted the RACGP regarding its policy which requires that trainees must be in active training at the time that they sit the RACGP Fellowship exams, unless an exemption is sought and granted.
We have respectfully submitted to the RACGP that policy change that allows trainees to sit the RACGP Fellowship exams without the burden of needing to seek a specific exemption would be in line with the aims of the college under its GP in Training Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy, and excellent public statements it has made in this area.
We will update members on the College’s response.
More on college policies regarding applying for and sitting fellowship examinations whilst on Interrupted Training: Communications and advocacy update: 13 July (amavic.com.au)
See also: Flexibility in Medical Work and Training Practices | Australian Medical Association (ama.com.au)
Concerns Regarding VCAT's "Medical Report Template - Guardianship List" Form - Update
We have previously informed our members about concerns held by AMA Victoria regarding what we perceive as a common practice at VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) of requesting medical practitioners to complete a form titled "Medical Report Template - Guardianship List" while summarily rejecting the payment of fees. AMA Victoria believes that this practice is unfair, inappropriate, and exposes doctors to unnecessary legal risks.
We have since had a productive meeting with VCAT during which they acknowledged AMA Victoria's concerns. VCAT clarified that the template is considered as guidance, meaning that the information requested does not necessarily have to be provided in the specified format. Additionally, VCAT representatives stated that they believe that medical practitioners have legal protection under the VCAT Act, even though this protection is not explicitly stated on the form. VCAT representatives acknowledged that since VCAT plays a role in medical practitioner regulation (AHPRA matters, and some medical practitioners naturally have concerns about the legal process, it would be beneficial to provide clearer guidance for practitioners regarding VCAT’s requirements and expectations.
Therefore, we discussed the possibility of collaborating on a Guidance Note for Medical Practitioners, which would be provided with the template form. This note would cover topics such as:
- the necessity of patient consultations
- potential fees for consultations (whether the patient is covered by MBS or other means)
- the purpose of the form
- the legal protection afforded to practitioners for completing the form, and
- which sections of the form are essential to complete, and which are merely desirable.
VCAT has committed to sharing a draft of this Guidance Note for our review in the near future.
AMA Victoria remains hopeful that future improvements to the Tribunal's processes will lead to a system where we can confidently encourage our members to support the Tribunal's important work in this area. Our meeting marked a positive step in this regard.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 implementation
Members would be aware that the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 came into operation on 1 September 2023.
The rushed implementation of the new Act is concerning. As we have consistently conveyed to the Department and Government that, without adequate resourcing and training, the mental health workforce will not be able to implement the intricacies of the Act, nor ensure its aspirations become reality.
AMA Victoria is working with health unions representing the members of the mental health workforce to raise our shared member concerns about the implementation of the Act with the Department of Health, and the Minister's Office.
If you have specific concerns, please contact Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at Lewish@amavic.com.au so that we can assist by advocating for your concerns.
See also: Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 | health.vic.gov.au
For more on mental health reform: Communications and advocacy update: 15 June (amavic.com.au); Communications and advocacy update: 27 July (amavic.com.au)
WorkSafe’s 52 Medical and Like Entitlement Review (52 MLER)
Please see the following update from WorkSafe Victoria:
Under Section 232 of the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 and Section 99AD of the Accident Compensation Act 1985, an injured worker’s entitlement to compensation for medical and like services ceases (unless exceptions apply)
- 52 weeks after their entitlement to weekly payments ceased
- 52 weeks after their entitlement to medical and like services arose (where a worker’s claim was accepted for medical and like services only)
WorkSafe and its authorised agents (Agents), in line with relevant legislation, may review entitlements to compensation for medical and like services on claims as outlined above. This review process is known as the 52 Week Medical and Like Entitlement Review (52 MLER).
As part of the 52 MLER, WorkSafe and its Agents will review existing circumstances and medical evidence to determine whether an exception applies or whether the entitlement should cease. In circumstances where available medical evidence is dated or incomplete, current and/or additional medical information from the injured workers treating health practitioner(s) (THP) will be requested, often in the form of a questionnaire. This questionnaire provides an opportunity for THPs to justify a worker’s ongoing need for medical and like services.
A response to the questionnaire(s) is critical in enabling WorkSafe and its Agents to determine whether an exception applies or whether the entitlement will cease. Where there is no current or sufficient evidence to support an exception, the entitlement to medical and like expenses will most likely cease.
It should be noted that the relevant legislation has not changed, rather the application and the process of this review has been more closely aligned with the intention of the relevant section(s) of the Act(s).
WorkSafe Victoria strongly encourages all THP’s providing services to an injured worker under the Victorian WorkCover scheme to communicate with WorkSafe and its Agents during a 52 MLER process to ensure their patient is provided their rightful entitlement.
Some of the fees aligned to 52 MLER questionnaire will be subject to an increase in the coming weeks. Additionally, the format and length of the questionnaire has been updated and condensed.
If members have any questions or concerns, please send these through to LewisH@amavic.com.au.