The Australian Medical Association (NSW) Limited (AMA (NSW)) has been granted interim authorisation to collectively bargain with private hospitals about the contract terms of Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs) who are working in private hospitals, but are providing public patient services that have been transferred there from public hospitals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

VMOs are medical practitioners who work as independent contractors in public hospitals, in addition to working in private practice. However, with public and private hospital operations potentially being integrated under an authorisation granted to the NSW Ministry of Health on 1 May 2020, VMOs may need to treat public patients in private hospitals. The AMA wants to negotiate new contracts to deal with these circumstances.

The collective bargaining is voluntary and temporary, and the AMA (NSW) will not be seeking to increase VMO fees above those currently agreed in the public health system. The conduct is also not intended to interfere with current arrangements for doctors treating private patients in private hospitals.

Having granted interim authorisation for these arrangements, the ACCC will seek feedback on the application for authorisation. Submissions on the substantive application are due by 29 May 2020.

More information, including details on how to make a submission and a copy of the ACCC’s interim authorisation decision, is available on the ACCC's public register at: AMA(NSW) – VMO collective bargaining in response to COVID-19.