VMOs ‘denigrated’ by NSW treasurer: AMA

2 minute read

NSW Treasurer makes a furphy raising the wrath of dedicated VMOs.

The NSW Treasurer has inadvertently “denigrated” hard-working Visiting Medical Officers by confusing them with highly paid casual locums, says the NSW AMA.

At the annual Health Services Union conference earlier this month, state Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said he was surprised at the cost of VMOs.

“We’re about to tip over into a billion dollars per year. We spend more per capita than on VMOs in Queensland and WA which have a more dispersed health system,” he said.

The Treasurer said the state government would ensure the upcoming special inquiry into health care spending “looks into” the high cost of VMOs.

Dr Michael Bonning, president NSW Australian Medical Association, told Health Services Daily today that the Treasurer had conflated the people who work as VMOs with those who work as top-dollar locums.

“The Treasurer’s comments denigrate the role of VMOs in NSW,” said Dr Bonning.

“VMOs have long-term consistent contracts. Many have been working 20, 30, 40 years in a location. It is incredibly hurtful to a group who have worked hard and valiantly throughout the pandemic, and before, under trying and underfunded conditions.”

Dr Bonning said that goodwill was a key retention lever for these doctors who “could easily go and practice elsewhere”. VMOs have generally felt support from the public health system in the past, he said.

“But if the leaders of Parliaments go on to diminish their contribution to the workforce and the system then they may well end up leaving. That would be a far worse outcome for the system, which would then ultimately have to rely more on locums,” he said.

Dr Bonning said that the current spotlight on costly locums was the result of policy that disincentivised hospitals from allocating longer-term contracts in their staff budgets.

“These hospitals don’t want to spend the money upfront on a [VMO] doctor and so they end up spending on the back end on locums,” he said.

Dr Bonning said that the issue was a structural problem created by not contracting doctors appropriately through staff specialist and VMO arrangements.

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×