Medical Officer Members' Newsletter - July 2011

Posted July 7, 2011 by Alex Scott

AHPRA - on time registration    

All members are reminded that AHPRA registration was due by 30th June and should note that non-renewals will be removed from the register on 31st July. We understand that renewals can be processed online and enquiries can be directed to 1300 419 495.

Overpayments recovery  

QH has commenced a process to recover overpayments with initial letters being sent to individuals asking them to confirm or question the amount owed. Confirmation will proceed to reaching mutual agreement on a suitable repayment schedule. Questions about amounts alleged to be owing will be directed to the overpayments team and if necessary individual case management will occur. Members should be mindful of the fact that QH has not and cannot identify underpayments - this is the individual's responsibility.

RMO appointment and secondment expenses  

The Award states that appointing Districts will re-imburse RMOs all reasonable costs on appointment. This clause has been something of a battleground for a long time with RMOs not being fully reimbursed for reasonable costs and Districts arbitrarily imposing limits to amounts re-imbursed and disputes being referred to the Qld Industrial Relations Commission for conciliation. The Union has been involved in rewriting QH policies on appointment secondment and rotation which QH proposes to describe as appointment secondment and relocation. Any such change must ensure that there is no diminution of entitlements outlined in existing IRMs.  Until new policies are issued we advise all RMOs with concerns about their entitlements in this regard to contact the Union.  

10 hour break from duty

From 16th November 2010 the required break from duty for SMOs and RMOs became 10 hours instead of 8 hours. This not only means that fatigue provisions apply if a break of 10 hours is not provided when overtime of at least two hours (cumulative) is performed between shifts but also that rostered shifts must have a 10 hour break between them.  We are aware that this has not been the case at every location and invite concerned members to contact the Union about any non-compliance with MOCA2 in this regard.     

Workplace facilities    

In MOCA2 in 2005, Qld Health committed to providing workplace facilities in accordance with agreed standards. During MOCA2 they agreed to prioritise the provision of common rooms and on-call/rest facilities at every site but particularly at sites with demonstrated recruitment and retention difficulties. It is extremely disappointing that QH has again failed to provide funding for urgently needed Medical Officers' facilities as required by the 2005 agreement.  This is a matter the Union will take up at the highest levels with QH. 

Bulk billing privately insured patients    

Private practice benefits are a component of pay and conditions of SMOs mentioned in MOCA2 and under the no further claims clause of MOCA2 there should be no changes unless mutually agreed by the parties. Most SMOs would be aware, however, of QH's moves to increase 'own source revenue'  by identifying and billing privately insured patients who elect to be treated as a such. The Union supports the maximization of income in this manner although there are a number of matters that we are seeking commitments on before significant changes are implemented. The major matters that need to be resolved include:


  1. Renewal of QH's previous commitment to the introduction of a new model of private practice that is equitable and mutually beneficial to employer and employee.
  2. Commitment to collective renegotiation of current contracts with the Union e.g. contracts introduced by QH without consultation allow a manager to arbitrarily withdraw Option A payments
  3. Alignment of the terms of the contracts with the QH Private Practice Policies particularly as they  relate to out of hours billings
  4. No reduction in entitlements under any revised policy e.g. superannuation and components of income that Op A allowance is payable on
  5. Recognising the right of the doctor to have general control over the treatment of the private patient including the appropriate scheduling of procedures

Acute care clinics collocated with EDs    

Meanwhile QH is implementing a trial of bulk billing 'acute care clinics' (ACCs) collocated with EDs. The Unions were not consulted about this prior to the trial commencing however QH has agreed to provide us with answers to a number of critical questions including:    

  1. The legal authority for bulk billing in ACCs collocated with EDs and outside those areas exempted by relevant provisions of the COAG Medicare agreement
  2. The rosters and staffing mix in the ED before and after the establishment of the ACC
  3. The rosters, staffing mix and credentialing of staff of the ACCs
  4. Applicability of ED extended hours payments for rostered work in the ED and ACC.

Qld Emergency Medicine Research Foundation (QMERF)    

Your union is a founding member of QMERF having been involved in negotiations with government in 2006for allocation of substantial funds ($2M per annum) for EM research. The Foundation is in full swing assessing applications and awarding grants for research that is likely to lead to improvements to EM care in Qld. The Foundation is now proposing changes to its constitution to allow it obtain research funding from a wider pool and to grow its functions. The Union will be supporting the proposed changes subject to a request for minor alterations to be made to the proposed draft constitution.   

Award Variation    

Your union has recently made application to the Qld Industrial Relations Commission to update the SMOs and RMOs Award to incorporate State Wage Case adjustments as well as the MOCA1 pay rates and revised classification structure to ensure there is a wages safety net .  Though MOs will not be materially affected by the Award variation if granted, this routine procedure is one undertaken by the Union to protect the wages of its members.    

'Super Summit'    

A number of members (particularly SMOs) have different concerns about superannuation in terms of what superannuation should be payable on what components of income; the legislated superannuation maximum contributions base;  concessional contributions limits; and upcoming changes to the latter.    

We would be happy to organize a members' meeting in the near future to discuss the issues here and invite all interested members to email their expression of interest to attend such a meeting (in person or be teleconference) to , indicating a preferred day /time.


Authorised Alex Scott, Secretary, Together.
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