ASMOF President tells NSW Health the ground rules must change to ensure JMO health and well-being.



ASMOF and NSW Health held a meeting to discuss the JMO Award on Wednesday 7 June.

This was a timely meeting as it followed the forum on the wellbeing of JMOs and the preliminary release of the results of the NSW ASMOF/AMA Alliance Hospital Health Check Survey, 2017.

ASMOF President Tony Sara made it very clear that if NSW Health wants to address the issue of JMO health and well-being then the ground rules for award negotiations must change. No longer can we be constrained by the unfair wages policy.

For nearly two years ASMOF has been campaigning for improvements to the Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award - which has not been updated for over 20 years and, we believe, is outdated, confusing and not fit for purpose. However, progress has been slow because of the NSW Government’s unfair Wages Policy which means any claims for improved conditions is an employee related cost. The result is that NSW Health cannot agree to our changes unless they are cost neutral.

We believe the recent spate of doctor suicides and the renewed interest in the health and well-being of junior doctors completely changes the ground rules of bargaining.

An analysis of the relevant literature shows that unsafe working hours and practices are a significant factor in the health and wellbeing of JMOs. The literature suggests the way to address these issues is to have clear and enforceable provisions to reduce excessive work hours.

We have told NSW Health they need to view JMO health and wellbeing as a WH&S issue and not as a cost issue. JMOs should not be asked to pay for their own health and safety.

We have told NSW health that we want the following issues addressed in the Award:
  • not rostering work hours in a way that causes an excessive or unsafe work pattern to exist.
  • a cap on shift length.
  • a mandatory minimum break between shifts
  • a cap on the number of consecutive days a JMO can be rostered.
  • a cap on the number of consecutive night shifts that can be worked.
  • rosters must be arranged such that time for rest and sleep is maximised between shifts.
  • workload monitoring provisions.
We will be meeting with NSW Health again on 22 June.