Rural doctors get negotiating muscleA proposal to allow the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) and its State associations to continue to negotiate with State and Territory Health Departments on behalf of rural doctors, has been put forward by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The negotiations in question relate to the terms and conditions under which rural doctors, including GPs and locums, provide services in public hospitals and health facilities as Visiting Medical Officers and provide after-hours services.
Acting Chair of the ACCC, Michael Schaper said collective negotiations could deliver cost savings and provide more effective input into contracts.
“This may lead to greater attraction and retention of doctors in rural areas, where access to sufficient medical services could otherwise be limited,” Dr Schaper said.
He said the RDAA was also seeking authorisation to collectively negotiate with Medicare Locals and Local Hospital Networks, which had been established to provide tailored healthcare solutions in geographically defined areas.
“However, the ACCC is not proposing to extend authorisation to negotiations with these parties because it is concerned that the benefits are likely to be more limited and collective negotiations may reduce price competition and the scope to negotiate specifically tailored solutions for each region,” Dr Schaper said.
“The ACCC would welcome further information about the potential benefits and detriments from collective bargaining with Medicare Locals and Local Hospital Networks before making its final decision.”
Authorisation by the ACCC provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Edition 377, 3 September 2013