Becoming the Doctors' Union for ALL Doctors

18-Jan-2013

Good start during O Week.

As members would be aware from last week’s story at the end of last year amendments were approved to the rules of ASMOF by the Industrial Registrar.  These rule changes provide the capacity for ASMOF to now cover and represent, in addition to the Health Services Union NSW, medical practitioners employed under the Public Hospital (Medical Officers) Award and the Public Hospitals (Medical Superintendents) Award

It essentially extends the previous shared coverage arrangements in place solely for Career Medical Officers to this additional cohort of medical practitioners.  The above awards have now also been subsequently varied by the IRC to reflect ASMOF’s capacity to represent such medical practitioners.

Since that time, ASMOF has been progressing the task of ensuring it is well placed to offer an exciting alternative to these doctors and therefore increasing union numbers and density amongst this workforce.  This will not only be to the benefit of these doctors but the whole profession. 

One ingredient in reaching out to this medical workforce is that ASMOF has now signed off on a partnership with the AMA NSW to make available to such a workforce an option - at the discretion of the doctor - to take up joint membership of both organisations.  Whether it is industrial advice and representation or the battle to ensure that enough training places exist or resolving issues with the award or dealing with medico-legal issues or safe working hours, ASMOF and AMA NSW joint members will have it covered via this partnership, badged as The Alliance

This partnership importantly protects and respects the independence of each organisation whilst realising what each can contribute - working together - for Interns, Residents and Registrars is far more powerful and is a potent mix of industrial and professional strength and experiences. 

In some respects this is not a novel approach.  The HSU had joint membership arrangements in place with the AMA NSW from the late 1990s to about 2006, recognising the benefits of providing to doctors access to both their industrial and professional organisations.  That partnership ultimately failed for a variety of reasons. 

Whilst very early days, the response received from new Interns during O Week was very positive.  The issue of having enough training places into the future and the ‘crisis’ that new Interns throughout Australia had just gone through to get places proved to be a topical area of discussion.  The shortages of training positions at RMO and Registrar levels this year was most significantly played out in Queensland and Victoria, where hundreds of RMOs have missed out on positions for this year.  Rectifying or preventing future failures to match postgraduate training places to graduate numbers will be a key issue for the coming years.

Lots of questions also about the benefits of joining, workplace entitlements, and what happens if something does go wrong.  All this was against a backdrop made up of equal measures of excitement and anxiety as these young women and men look toward the coming weeks, months and years of training ahead.  

A sound start but only the beginning.  The work really begins from now.

Let’s welcome these new Interns to not only now being part of the NSW Health workforce but to ASMOF as well.