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AMA wins protection for rural GPs

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The AMA has achieved a significant advance in protecting the interests of rural GPs working as Visiting Medical Officers after securing authority to collectively bargain on their behalf.

In a decision seen as important in helping to attract and retain doctors in rural areas, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has renewed the AMA’s authorisation to collectively bargain with State and Territory health departments regarding terms and conditions for rural GP VMOs.

The renewed bargaining authority is for the next 10 years, and covers all states and territories except New South Wales (where AMA NSW already has bargaining authorisation in its own right) and the ACT (which is not classified as a rural area).

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said the ACCC’s decision was a welcome outcome that would not only make it more efficient and less costly to negotiate conditions for rural GP VMOs, but would help support the rural medical workforce.

“The ACCC accepted the AMA’s submission that the ability to negotiate mutually beneficial contracts may also lead to greater attraction and retention of doctors in rural areas, where access to sufficient medical services would otherwise be limited,” Dr Hambleton said.

Adrian Rollins