AMA attacks new Healthway plan

19/05/2015 - 15:05

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Just days after it strongly criticised plans for a new medical school at Curtin University, the Australian Medical Association is again at odds with the state government, this time over a restructuring of Healthway.

AMA attacks new Healthway plan
Health Minister Kim Hames.

Just days after it strongly criticised plans for a new medical school at Curtin University, the Australian Medical Association is again at odds with the state government, this time over a restructuring of Healthway.

Health Minister Kim Hames announced today a new governance structure for Healthway, three months after its board resigned over a ticketing rorts scandal.

The former board was led by former AMA president Rosanna Capolingua.

Under the new legislation, the number of board members will be reduced from 11 to seven.

The requirement that board members represent a specific organisation will be removed, and instead they will be appointed by the health minister on the basis of their capacity to contribute to the effective management of the organisation.

Under the new arrangements, Healthway will operate in a similar manner to Lotterywest.

In particular, ministerial powers to scrutinise, influence and direct Healthway will reflect similar arrangements under the Lotteries Commission Act 1990.

Dr Hames said it was time to draw a line in the sand and create a legislative environment that set the organisation up for success and the restoration of government and public confidence.

“This is an opportunity to completely review the legislative framework Healthway has sat within and to establish a model that allows greater public accountability and functions better aligned to the organisation’s objectives,” he said.

“Importantly, Healthway will now operate under its own stand-alone legislation, the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation Bill 2015, no longer tied to the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006.

Healthway’s functions have extended beyond purely tobacco-related health issues and it’s vital that the original intent to actively support a healthier WA can be supported by the right legislation.”

The AMA, which had a guaranteed board position on the old Healthway board, said the organisation would lose its independence as a result of the announced changes. 

Its criticism comes one day after it described the approval of a new medical school at Curtin University as the worst decision in Western Australian health in decades.

“This is sneaky and secretive and will do nothing to provide additional GPs in rural areas or indeed Western Australia,” AMA (WA) president Michael Gannon said on Monday.

“This announcement will reduce the quality of training and will put patient care at risk.

“This is about the premier not thinking about an issue past a headline and Curtin University wanting an ego boost.”

The AMA said medical student numbers are already at an all-time high in WA.

This year alone, there will be 337 students graduating from medical schools in WA, a figure expected to rise in coming years.

Curtin University said its medical school would help WA meet an urgent doctor shortage.

It will commence in 2017 with 60 domestic students a year, increasing to 120 (110 domestic and 10 international students) by 2022.

Curtin vice-chancellor Deborah Terry said the undergraduate medical degree would have a strong emphasis on primary care, which would position graduates well for rural and remote practice, as well as outer suburban locations, where there was an acute shortage of doctors.

“The program’s proposed commencement date and staged growth will ensure the availability of post-graduation clinical places for students,” Professor Terry said.

“Research has shown that hospitals in the eastern and southern suburbs will welcome medical students and this will be supported by placements in aged-care and mental health facilities as well as general practice and newly created clinical schools.”

 

 

 

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