"In the post election environment we are now awaiting news of the major post election reforms, namely local hospital networks (LHNs) and Medicare locals (MLs). AMA Tasmania put in a submission to the State and Federal Health Departments proposing three LHNs and MLs corresponding to the three Area Health Services. Council developed policy in this area following consultation with members statewide.
The Medical Board of Australia came into existence on 1 July this year. I am aware of teething problems realted to reregistration. These problems have been brought to my attention and are being addressed by AMA Tasmania with considerable success. In particular, late registration fees will be waived this year.
Finally, AMA Tasmania hosted a successful Parliamentary Dinner last week. Considerable support was shown by our members who had the opportunity to chat with politicians, their advisors and senior public servants over a meal."
Last month I was lucky enough to be invited to the American Society of Association Executives annual meeting in Los Angeles. Well, what an experience! There were well over 3,500 delegates, 500 exhibitors and all held at the massive Los Angeles Convention Centre, next to the Staples Sports Centre, home to the LA Lakers. Pity it was their off season.
I found the conference to be a window into the future of association management. The biggest thing that hit me was the push towards “Online Communities” a bit like closed circuit FaceBook for members only. So many IT companies and programmers were on hand to sell their wares.
The AMA at a federal level is well positioned to enter this new on line community realm as it already runs a database system called iMIS which can be used as the basis of any future developments.
From the Members point of view though, it brings networking to a new level, it provides a valuable new resource to members, i.e.: the ability to discuss anything with colleagues online at anytime. Blogs, circulating professional articles and even just feeling connected.
With 56 guests at Parliament on the 21st September Members of Parliament were left in no doubt that the AMA message was important. Our host the Hon. Michael Polley was kind enough to take a large contingent through the House including the underground museum and the chambers.
This will now, once again, become part of the annual calendar, so when the 2011 calendar is realised keep the date reserved in your diary.
The focus over the next 6 months is membership; we have over 400 members and need to elevate this in the coming months. Renewals’ will be sent to all members in the first week in December for the 2011 membership year. So, if you have colleagues in your practice or hospital urge them to join the AMA so that they can also say that they are taking their role as leaders in our community seriously.
2010 has signified a new era for the School of Medicine. Medical Science 1 has provided excellent accommodation for both students and staff and has facilitated excellence in teaching and learning. 2010 also signified the successful commencement of the Bachelor of Paramedic Practice and sadly, 2010 will denote the conclusion of the Bachelor of Medical Research.
However, a new degree, the Bachelor of Biotechnology and Medical Research will provide our future Medical Researchers with a broader scope of practice. This new degree will combine the Bachelor of Medical Research with the Bachelor of Biotechnology from the Faculty of Science and Engineering and be taught across a number of schools, including Medicine.
In August the inaugural Service of Appreciation was held to acknowledge and give thanks to the Body Bequest Program donors for their contribution to medical sciences education. The School is extremely grateful to the donors and their families and wished to recognize and acknowledge the wonderful gift the donors have selflessly made. The service provided an opportunity for all to reflect and remember loved ones, and for staff and students to express their appreciation for the generosity of the donors and their families. The School is planning to hold further Services of Appreciation in the future.
Another new initiative in 2010 was the introduction of the public lecture series.
In March Professor Margaret Morris presented an informative lecture titled “Obesity – what does your brain have to do with it”. More recently in September Professor James Fawcett presented a fascinating lecture titled “Spinal cord injury: What can we do now and how are we going to repair it”. The lectures were well attended by members of the health sector and the general public. With the success of these two lectures the School intends to continue the series in 2011.
The Medical School continues to strive to utilise different teaching methods which are innovative and practical. Recently the school participated in a Wilderness Medicine weekend in Dover. The weekend was designed to provide hands on experience in undertaking rescue and medical intervention in a wilderness setting. The students encountered a series of emergency scenarios, which required the utilisation of leadership, team work, improvisation, initiative, communication as well as medical and rescue skills. It was a real test of the student’s acquired skills and knowledge and how well they are able to work together to save lives. Activities of this type ensures the Medical School experience is not only through books and hospital experience, but also through relevant field work that directly assists members of the Tasmanian community.
Ocsober is a fundraising initiative that encourages people to give up alcohol for the month of October. The money raised goes to Life Education, which for over 30 years, has been teaching Australian children how to enjoy a healthy lifestyle by resisting participation in drug and alcohol abuse.
Ocsober is also an important opportunity to highlight the growing danger of binge drinking and alcohol abuse, particularly among young Australians. Participants can also enjoy other potential benefits from a month off alcohol including feeling healthier and fitter, weight loss and the chance to enjoy Sunday mornings again!
Please join Michael Aizen (AMA), Neroli Ellis (ANF) and Tony Steven (AMA) as they go sober in October, or make a donation.
A listening ear as close as your phone. Call 1300 853 338 for anonymous and confidential peer support for doctors by doctors, 8am to 11pm every day of the year.
Anonymous and confidential.
Doctors are under increasing pressure and stress in the workplace. As caring professionals doctors help others every day. Yet, often doctors are the last to access the help when it is needed. Speak to a colleague who understands the pressure of medicine.
Have you been involved in a stressful incident or been subject to violence or trauma in your workplace? Have you experienced workplace issues such as bullying or have workload concerns? Not sure where your career is taking you or feeling burnt out? The Peer Support Service is here to listen and help you take the next step in resolving your issue. You can speak confidentially to another doctor any day of the year.
The service is available 365 days of the year from 8am to 11pm.
Nicole Florisson, Authorised Representative, Aequis Senior Financial Adviser
Feeling like your financial affairs are a little out of shape? It’s not surprising, given that so many of us seem to go it alone when it comes to our finances.
Recently, the stress of studying to pass my CFP exams (and maybe a little bad posture) had caused terribly aching muscles and a dreadful burning sensation across my shoulders. As you can imagine, my husband wasn’t overly impressed at the prospect of massaging away my aches and pains, so he kindly volunteered to book a massage treatment for me.
It turned out that my masseur was a personal trainer, and someone who obviously took his career seriously - there was not an ounce of fat on his body! As I stripped bare and lay on the massage table, I felt intimidated by his strong muscular physique and only too aware that the odd chocolate bar I had indulged in would be obvious to any eye!
I suddenly felt incredibly unfit and unhealthy with a desperate desire to do something about it. It struck me how similar his profession was to mine – right down to the intimidation and fear many clients feel when they ‘bare all’ to their financial adviser.
In my experience, most people put off seeing an adviser, thinking they should be able to do it themselves or that they should at least get their finances looking ‘healthier’ before consulting a professional. It’s the same as feeling that you want to practice your push-ups before going to gym or boot camp.
Just like a personal trainer, a financial adviser can give you the kick start that you need. By procrastinating or taking a DIY approach, you will only risk further damage to your financial health in the long run.
Your financial adviser studies hard to keep up with new laws and legislation and every change in the economic environment. Rather than chop and change, or follow the latest fad, our recommendations are based on deep research and are intended to help you achieve your personal best.
The truth is, I love the satisfaction that comes from helping people set goals and stay motivated and on track to achieve them. I’m passionate about helping people make informed decisions about money to achieve everything that they are capable of.
Sure, we could all try to look after our own advice needs, but it’s hard to know the right path to choose, and how to keep at it when the going gets tough, without regular contact with someone whose sole aim is to help keep you on track.
Life changes regularly, with new jobs, new family, inheritances, retirement, new goals and aspirations. If you’re feeling worried about your financial plan, or something in your situation has changed, it’s time to call your coach for some one-on-one advice.
Like the road to peak physical fitness, the path to financial health isn’t a quick fix, but rather a process requiring strong discipline and patience. A personal trainer may be just what you need to get on the right track and keep you there!
For more information about how we can help you achieve your goals, contact us at our Rosny office on 6282 2822 or visit our website www.aequis.com.au
*Nicole Florisson and Aequis Pty Ltd are Authorised Representatives of GWM Adviser Services Limited ABN 96 002 071 749 Australian Financial Services Licensee Registered Office at 105 – 153 Miller Street North Sydney NSW 2060. GWM Adviser Services Limited is a Principal member of the Financial Planning Association.
AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the AMA welcomes the positive response from the Medical Board of Australia to the AMA’s formal request to waive late fees for doctors registering with the Board under the new national registration arrangements.
Dr Pesce said that, in a letter to the Board on 15 September, the AMA made strong representations about the level of fees for national registration, with particular concern about the high fees for late renewals.
“Harsh financial penalties are not the way to bed down a new system,” Dr Pesce said.
“It is important that the Board does everything possible to help doctors get used to the new registration arrangements. There have been teething problems with the new system, and the high late fees have been the last straw for many doctors.
“It is inevitable that there will be some late registrations by some doctors this year, but they should not be penalised, especially when the transition to the Board’s administrative processes has contributed significantly to the many problems being experienced by doctors in renewing their medical registration.
“The consequences of doctors not being registered are considerable – for the doctor and the health system.”
Dr Pesce said the AMA is urging doctors to renew their registration as soon as possible.
“If doctors miss the registration deadline, they could be ‘struck off’ under National Law and be unable to practise medicine.
“If this happens, doctors would have to make a new application for registration and meet all the requirements under the National Law, including proof of identity and qualifications, and criminal history checks.”
The easiest way to renew is online, and doctors can check when their renewal is due by clicking on the Medical Register at www.medicalboard.gov.au
Renewal notices have been sent to doctors in Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT, the Northern Territory, and South Australia. The process for Queensland doctors is now complete. Registration in NSW is linked to the doctors’ birth dates and the process is progressing accordingly.
Dr Pesce said the AMA would continue discussions with the Medical Board about the overall high level of registration fees under the new system as compared to the previous State-based medical registration arrangements.
The AMA welcomed the move to national registration of medical practitioners, but we have been disappointed at the implementation thus far. National registration processes to date have proved to be inefficient and confusing for many of our members – and the registration fee is much higher this year.
By the time you read this, you should have re-registered online. If you have not re-registered, you must do so before the end of October, or have your registration cancelled. (Under the old, Victorian-based scheme, the grace period was longer.)
Unfortunately, renewing registration has been particularly difficult for some of our members.
The new administrative body, the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority (AHPRA), was quickly overwhelmed by the volume of calls and emails it was receiving. They added dozens of call centre staff, but as at the time of writing, were still not able to answer around 100 calls a day. The call centre staff were unable to handle most queries, with another bottleneck in the AHPRA offices in the Melbourne CBD. The result was that many members had significant difficulties reaching someone with the knowledge to help them.
AMA Victoria met with AHPRA officers at the highest level to deal with problems that our members had encountered. While we certainly did not get every problem solved, we were able to speed up the process for a significant number of members.
As well as the lack of responsiveness, AMA Victoria noted that the forms that doctors were expected to fill in are complicated and require unnecessary detail, that it is not at all clear what options are available to retired and semi-retired doctors, and that AHPRA had not taken into account in their forms and literature the Board’s decision to recognise VR GPs as specialists. The latter was particularly galling, as the AMA fought hard for that recognition.
That AHPRA failed to improve the processes for registration from the old Medical Board of Victoria model was particularly disappointing, as the costs of registration have increased dramatically. Put simply, doctors are not getting what they are paying for.
We note that there are a significant number of retired and semi-retired doctors who have elected to let their registration lapse because of the increasing cost and burden of registration. If you are in this category, please be assured that you are able to remain a member of the AMA and will be very welcome to take part in the activities of our retired doctors group as well as take advantage of all our member benefits.
AMA Victoria will continue to work with AHPRA to make sure that the mistakes of this year are not repeated next year. We recognise that national registration has been a massive undertaking, and that problems were bound to occur. However, many of the problems that AHPRA has had this year would have been easily preventable with a bit of forethought or consultation with the profession. The model being implemented has had some of its faults ironed out as a result of our lobbying, but there is a way to go.
We always argued that the benefits of national registration could be achieved in a simpler and more streamlined (and less costly) fashion, and a number of changes were introduced at our urging. We have also argued strongly that the mandatory reporting provisions are both unfair and counter-productive. We will continue to push for more sensible mandatory reporting provisions and will urge the Authority to freeze the registration fees for as long as possible.
Any doctor who is still experiencing problems dealing with AHPRA, please call us and we’ll see if we can help.
Close to 40,000 doctors around Australia are now due to renew their medical registration. Some doctors may be considering whether or not to renew their registration under the National Scheme.
The Medical Board of Australia provides the following information to help answer some questions about non-practising registration.
What is non-practising registration?
Medical practitioners with non-practising registration cannot undertake any clinical practice. They are not permitted to prescribe or refer, regardless of whether they are being remunerated.
There is a reduced fee ($125) for non-practising registration. These practitioners continue to receive the Board’s publications.
This type of registration may be suitable for medical practitioners who:
- have retired completely from medical practice
- are not practising temporarily (for example, on maternity or paternity leave) or
- who are not practising in Australia but are practising overseas.
How does the Board define ‘practice’?
Any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a health practitioner in their profession. For the purposes of this registration standard, practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes using professional knowledge in a direct non-clinical relationship with clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles, and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of services in the profession.
What happens if I let my registration lapse?
If you do not renew your registration, your registration will lapse and you will no longer be able to practise medicine. This includes no prescribing and no referrals. You can still use the title doctor and have access to the Board’s website, but you will not receive any Board publications.
Can I change my mind and reapply for registration later? Yes, you can apply for registration at a later date, but you will need to meet the Board’s registration standards when you re-apply, including criminal history checks and verification of qualifications and identity.
What is limited registration (public interest - occasional practice)?
This type of registration was only available as a one off transition to the National Law. It only applies to practitioners who on 30 June 2010 held a type of registration that allowed them to refer and/or prescribe, but not receive a fee for providing that service. If you do not already have this type of registration it is not an option to seek this type of registration now. The National Law does not allow the Board to grant this type of registration to any new applicants. However, if you believe that you should have transitioned into the national scheme in this category, please contact us through the web enquiry form on the website.
What type of registration do I need if I only want to refer and prescribe, without a fee?
Unless you now have limited registration (public interest - occasional practise), you must have general or specialist registration, or a category of limited registration that allows you to prescribe and refer. You must pay the full registration fee and meet the Board’s registration standards, including Continuing Professional Development and Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Why did the Board adopt this position?
One of the reasons cited by many doctors for wanting to be able to have limited registration is to be able to prescribe and refer for themselves and their immediate family and friends. The Board believes that all doctors should have their own general practitioner and should avoid, whenever possible, treating family and friends. Good Medical Practice: A code of conduct for doctors in Australia - the professional standards framework for doctors registered to practise in Australia - states that good medical practice includes having a general practitioner and seeking independent, objective advice when you need medical care, and being aware of the risks of self-diagnosis and self-treatment.
The Medical Board is aware that there is a significant level of concern about the mandatory reporting provisions of the National Law. Some of these concerns appear to be based on a lack of understanding of the reporting obligations, particularly on the provisions related to impairment.
The Board encourages medical practitioners and students whose health is impaired to seek and receive good medical care. This will reduce the likelihood of a mandatory report.
In relation to impaired health, it is only necessary for another health practitioner or an employer to notify the Board if a practitioner has:
- practised the practitioner’s profession while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or
- placed the public at risk of substantial harm in the practitioner’s practice of the profession because the practitioner has an impairment
Therefore, mandatory reporting only applies if a practitioner has practised while intoxicated or has placed the public at substantial harm as a result of an impairment. An impairment or poor health in themselves are not sufficient grounds to trigger a mandatory report. A practitioner who recognises that they have an impairment and voluntarily stops practising before it affects their practice does not need to be reported to the Board.
The Board has published guidelines for mandatory notifications. These are available on the Board’s website at www.medicalboard.gov.au. Registered health practitioners, employers and education providers have obligations to report under the National Law.
The WA Parliament has amended the national law in relation to mandatory reporting in that state. Only in WA, practitioners who are in a treating relationship with another practitioner are not required to make a mandatory notification to the Board.
Notifiable conduct in relation to registered health practitioners means:
The practitioner has:
- practised the practitioner’s profession while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or
- engaged in sexual misconduct in connection with the practice of the practitioner’s profession or
- placed the public at risk of substantial harm in the practitioner’s practice of the profession because the practitioner has an impairment or
- placed the public at risk of harm because the practitioner has practised the profession in a way that constitutes a significant departure from accepted professional standards.
Immunity for making a mandatory report
The National Law provides protection from civil, criminal andadministrative liability for persons who make a notification in good faith.
Mandatory notifications by health practitioners
Registered practitioners must report to AHPRA if in the course of practising their profession, they form the belief that:
- another registered practitioner has engaged in “notifiable conduct” or
- a student has an impairment that, in the course of that student undertaking clinical training, may place thepublic at substantial risk of harm.
These obligations apply to all health practitioners registered in the national scheme, not just within professions.
The National Law also provides for a number of exemptions from the obligation to report. These exemptions are detailed in the National Law and in the mandatory reporting guidelines. They include when the practitioner who would otherwise have had a duty to report has formed the belief that a practitioner’s conduct is notifiable during legal proceedings or while preparing legal advice; is engaged by a professional indemnity insurer; is a member of a quality assurance committee; or knows that the Agency has been informed of the notifiable conduct.
Mandatory notifications by employers
An employer has a mandatory obligation to report an employee if they believe that their employee (aregistered health practitioner) has behaved in a way that constitutes notifiable conduct.
Mandatory notifications by education providers
An education provider must notify AHPRA if they reasonably believe—
- a student enrolled in a program of study has an impairment that, in the course of the student undertaking clinical training as part of the program of study, may place the public at substantial risk of harm or
- a student for whom the education provider has arranged clinical training has an impairment that, in the course of the student undertaking the clinical training, may placethe public at substantial risk of harm.
Medical practitioners appointed by public hospitals to provide medical services for patients on an honorary, sessionally paid, or fee for service basis (VMOs) play a pivotal role in the health system by augmenting services, including specialist services, throughout rural, regional and metropolitan Australia.
Certain collective negotiation arrangements by medical professionals, especially those working as VMOs, can put them at risk of breaching the prohibitions against anti-competitive conduct in Part IV of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (the Act).
This article highlights the key trade practices issues for AMA members involved in collective or other VMO negotiations and explains how VMOs can collectively bargain without falling foul of the Act.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is responsible for promoting compliance with and enforcing the Trade Practices Act 1974 (the Act). The Act aims to enhance the welfare of Australians through the promotion of competition and fair trading. To achieve that aim, the Act prohibits various restrictive trade practices and misleading or deceptive and unconscionable conduct.
The Act applies to all business activities in Australia, including the activities of medical professionals. Medical professionals have rights and obligations under the TPA with respect to their dealings with consumers and competitors.
What the law says
Part IV of the Act contains a number of prohibitions against anti-competitive conduct (also known as restrictive trade practices). Some of the most important rules in Part IV prohibit agreements, arrangements or understandings between competitors that reduce competition – often referred to as ‘cartel conduct’.
A cartel provision is one that has the purpose or likely effect of fixing, controlling or maintaining prices, or the purpose of preventing, restricting or limiting outputs, allocating customers, suppliers or territories, and/or bid-rigging. Amendments to the Act in 2009 specifically define and prohibit types of cartel conduct for which civil and criminal penalties are available.
It is a breach of the law for competitors to make an agreement, arrangement or understanding containing a cartel provision and a further breach to put it into effect.
Criminal penalties for individuals include gaol sentences of up to ten years or fines of up to $220,000 for each breach and other court orders including the possibility of being disqualified from managing a company.
Civil penalties of up to $500,000 for each breach can be imposed against individuals found to have been knowingly concerned in the conduct and the court may also disqualify directors and officers from managing a company.
Who is a ‘competitor’?
For the purposes of the Act, doctors working as sole practitioners (even when sharing premises with other doctors) or working within a separate legal entity from other members of their practice are considered to be competing with the other doctors in those practices. As such, the Act requires that they must set fees and determine their availability independently - they must not make such decisions collectively with their competitors.
VMOs who operate as independent contractors will also generally be considered to be competitors. This means that VMOs can be at risk of breaching the anti-competitive conduct prohibitions of the Act if they act collectively, including collectively negotiating contract terms and conditions with a hospital or health department.
That said, in recent years, the ACCC has allowed a number of collective bargaining arrangements involving VMOs on the basis that the public benefits arising from those arrangements are greater than any resulting detriment.
Protection from legal action
The Act contains some mechanisms through which the ACCC can grant parties immunity from legal action. These require that parties seek authorisation of their arrangements from, or notify their conduct to, the ACCC and that the public benefits arising from such arrangements outweighs any detriment that may be caused. Such exemptions are very specific, and certain processes must be followed for the protection to arise. As such, VMOs and other medical practitioners and organisations should seek independent advice about their likely application to specific arrangements.
Doctors are protected from legal action arising out of contraventions of the cartel prohibitions if they have given the ACCC a collective bargaining notice, and met certain pre-conditions, in so far as the conduct relates to: price fixing, restricting outputs or allocating customers, suppliers or territories.
Collective bargaining occurs when two or more competitors in an industry agree to, or propose to, negotiate terms and conditions (which can include price) with a supplier or a customer (also known as the ‘target’). The collective bargaining group must obtain immunity from the relevant provisions of the TPA before commencing the bargaining process by contacting the ACCC in the first instance.
The ACCC can provide protection against legal action under the TPA for collective bargaining arrangements which are in the public interest. This is done through the processes of authorisation and notification.
The authorisation and notification processes require the details of the proposed collective bargaining arrangement to be provided to the ACCC. The ACCC assesses the information, consults with other parties who may have an interest in the arrangements, and determines whether the public benefits from the arrangements outweigh any public detriments. When assessing a collective bargaining arrangement, the ACCC will always consult with the party that the collective bargaining group wishes to negotiate with.
Collective bargaining by VMOs may be in the public interest if, by forming a group, VMOs have greater input into their negotiations and are able to achieve a more efficient negotiated outcome. The party that the group wishes to negotiate with may also prefer to deal with VMOs as a group, rather than having to negotiate with each doctor individually.
More information about the authorisation and notification processes is available on the ACCC website.
Collective bargaining arrangements authorised by the ACCC
The ACCC has authorised a number of collective bargaining arrangements involving VMOs negotiating their terms and conditions with health departments.
In December 2008, the ACCC authorised the AMA to collectively bargain with relevant state and territory health departments on behalf of its members (except in NSW – see below) who operate as rural GPs providing services as Visiting Medical Officers in public hospitals and health facilities in rural and remote areas of Australia. The negotiations covered the terms of the contracted services, including fees charged. The ACCC considered a single negotiation process could lead to a more informed and efficient outcome, compared to multiple negotiations. The collective arrangement was voluntary for both the AMA members and health departments, and the authorisation did not extend to any collective boycott activity should the negotiations stall.
In August 2008 the ACCC authorised the AMA NSW to collectively negotiate with NSW Health and public health organisations in relation to the terms and conditions of VMO contracts in the NSW public hospital system. The ACCC considered that certain features of the NSW health system limited the potential detriment of the proposed arrangement. Importantly, negotiations about rates of remuneration can only take place with NSW Health and state legislation significantly constrains the ability of public health organisations to negotiate contract terms which are inconsistent with those centrally determined by NSW Health. Additionally, NSW Health remained free to continue to establish standard terms and conditions for VMO contracts with or without input from the AMA NSW.
Collective boycotts are agreements, arrangements or understandings between competitors which have the purpose or likely effect of restricting the persons or classes of persons they may deal with (called the target), or the circumstances in which or conditions upon which they may deal with such persons. Doctors are of course generally free to choose who they deal with and on what terms. However, if an agreement is made between competitors, they may be engaging in, or be knowingly concerned in, exclusionary behaviour or a ‘primary boycott’ in breach of the Act.
The Act also prohibits ‘secondary boycotts’ (for example, where one or more doctors hinder another doctor from supplying services to a hospital) if they have the purpose, or likely effect of causing substantial loss or damage to the business of the target (in this example, the hospital).
Collective boycotts can significantly increase the potential anti-competitive effects of collective bargaining arrangements. The ACCC is unlikely to allow protection from legal action to such conduct in most cases.
Five country GPs recently undertook to the ACCC they would refrain from their previous conduct following an investigation into concerns those doctors breached the TPA in dealings with their local hospital. The five doctors from Kangaroo Island operated as an associateship, making them competitors for the purposes of the TPA.
The GPs each wrote to the hospital’s administrator, in identical terms, giving notice that they would not accept their current remuneration for after-hours services to the hospital from a nominated date and enclosing an interim contract for negotiations should the hospital wish to continue an on-call doctor arrangement for patients presenting or admitted to the hospital. Each was aware the other doctors had sent identical letters. While the doctors continued to provide services after the nominated date, the ACCC was concerned the doctors had breached competition law by engaging in a collective boycott by agreeing to threaten to withdraw their services.
Risk areas for VMOs - how to exercise caution
• Avoid discussions and, most importantly, agreements with other professional practitioners about prices.
• Agreements, arrangements or understandings between competitors to divide or allocate any services, customers, suppliers or territories are prohibited (unless authorised by the ACCC beforehand).
• Do not make any agreements, arrangements or understandings with your competitors about controlling (including limiting) the supply of goods or services to consumers.
• Any decision to limit the output of your business—for example, by cutting back on your hours— must be made independently.
• Do not make agreements, arrangements or understandings with your competitors for the purpose of preventing, restricting or limiting dealings with suppliers or customers.
• Set the terms and conditions of your agreements with suppliers and customers independently.
The following ACCC publications may aide in applying this article to your practice and are available online at www.accc.gov.au:
- Professions and the Trade Practices Act
- ACCC Info kit for the medical profession
- Guide to authorisations
- Guide to collective bargaining notifications
Recently a car was broken into while a family were at a football game. Their car was parked on the green which was adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted to football fans.
Items stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard.
When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen.
The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house. They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game, they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house.
It would appear that they had brought a truck to empty the house of its contents.
Something to consider if you have a GPS - don't put your home address in it. Put a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so you can still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know where you live if your GPS were stolen.
Change your habit of how you list names on your mobile phone. A handbag was stolen which contained a cell phone, credit cards and wallet.
20 minutes later when the owner called her husband, from a pay phone telling him what had happened, he replied saying 'I received your text asking about our Pin number and I've replied a little while ago.'
When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn.
The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text 'hubby' in the contact list and got hold of the pin number. Within 20 minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.
Moral of the lesson:
Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list.
Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mum, etc....
And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back.
Also, when you're being text by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from them. If you don't reach them, be very careful about going places to meet 'family and friends' who text you.