AMA WA re-enters negotiations with federal body

3 minute read

The warring factions will reconvene in Adelaide for the first time since the shock decision to kick the WA division of the AMA out of the federation.

AMA WA has resolved to patch up its differences with AMA national and begin negotiations anew, paving the way for its 5000 members to rejoin the federation.

A reunification of the AMA will be especially beneficial for West Australian GPs, who tend to benefit more from advocacy on the national stage than the specialists employed by state-run hospital services.

The saga began last year with a spat between AMA WA and AMA federal about fees.

AMA WA claims to have historically contributed about 18% of total AMA federal funds while representing just 10% of total membership.

The quarrel reached unexpected heights at the end of February, when the federal AMA sent an email to AMA WA members advising them that they were no longer members of the national body.

All 5000 doctors immediately lost free access to the AMA fees list, the Medical Journal of Australia and the AMA careers service.

The fracture between AMA federal and AMA WA was unprecedented in the history of the organisation, and both sides immediately voiced their intention for the split to be temporary.

Then there were no updates for almost a month.

The “glacial” progress toward reunification led AMA WA vice president Dr Simon Torvaldsen to quit the board in protest last week, Australian Doctor reported.

In response to Dr Torvaldsen’s criticism over the pace of reforms, AMA WA president Dr Page said it was just the “reality of negotiation”.

“While Simon is frustrated by the timeframes, unfortunately this has been a pretty dramatic escalation in this negotiation and I think it’s not realistic to assume that we can solve it overnight,” he told The Medical Republic.

“The main thing is that we’re committed to solving it.”

In any case, Dr Torvaldsen perhaps spoke too soon. AMA WA confirmed with TMR today that it was now back to actively negotiating with the federal body.

The federal AMA itself declined to publicly comment on the matter and noted that arrangements were not finalised.

To prove its commitment toward working for a solution, AMA WA has appointed a new negotiation team, comprised of Dr Page, vice president Dr Katharine Noonan and GP board member Dr Mary Wyatt.

With AMA WA citing “geographic separation and cultural differences” as a factor in the breakdown of the first set of negotiations, both parties have agreed to meet on neutral ground in Adelaide.

Owing to unavailability on the federal side, the talks won’t happen until May at the earliest.

“The nature of these things is that they are always subject to each party’s availability,” Dr Page told TMR.

“It does slow things down a little bit, but we’ll do what we can in the in the interim to lay some groundwork before we meet.”

In an update to members, Dr Page said the goal was to have the major issues ironed out so that by the time the meeting rolled around “we have hopefully already agreed on the majority”.

The federal negotiating team is led by Canberra dermatologist Dr Andrew Miller, not to be confused with the former AMA WA president of the same name.

The split between AMA WA and federal does not affect the AMA WA’s CPD home offering, which remains discounted for all AMA federal members.

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×