Since I wrote to you in early July, the GPRA Negotiation Team has been participating in a number of meetings with the team representing General Practice Supervisors Australia (GPSA) to negotiate on the National Terms and Conditions for the Employment of Registrars (NTCER). A representative of the AMA has provided an impartial chairperson for these meetings.
We have concerns with the current NTCER and negotiation process
As you may be aware, prior to the commencement of the 2018 negotiations GPRA raised concerns with the negotiation process.
These concerns centred around the biennial truncated schedule and the lack of opportunity for appropriate good faith bargaining. While these concerns were not resolved, GPRA proceeded to participate in the negotiations to raise issues of registrars and seek to address areas of ambiguity in the NTCER document.
Of particular priority were the 13-week billing reconciliation cycle and several clauses relating to payment of on-call and after-hours work for registrars as a component of their GP training, most often in rural placements involving local hospital services.
At the outset, GPSA’s position was that the “NTCER in its current form is balanced and fair and so GPSA has no claims to submit at this time that would adversely affect a registrar or a practice to provide”. Apart from raising a concern with fatigue management and registrars working for after-hours deputising services, GPSA’s position remained unchanged.
We are discontinuing 2018 NTCER negotiations
As the NTCER negotiation process requires mutual agreement in order to effect any change, and as there has been no indication from GPSA that they can seriously consider any of the changes or improvements to the wording of the NTCER proposed by GPRA during the 2018 negotiations, the GPRA Board has determined that there is no value in continuing with the current negotiations.
Furthermore, GPRA no longer considers that it is viable to endorse the 2017/18 NTCER as “fair and reasonable” for GP registrars; however we recognise that supervisors, RTOs and registrars may consider that it is necessary for the current NTCER to remain in place to ensure a level of certainty for accredited training practices in terms of minimum employment conditions for registrars undertaking placements in 2019 and beyond.
We are working towards a more modern and equitable approach to GP registrar employment agreements
I realise this will be a disappointing outcome for many GP registrars. However, we will now be approaching the Department of Health and engaging with other GP sector stakeholders, including the RTOs and GPSA, to begin the process of working towards a more modern and equitable approach to the employment of registrars in general practice settings. Read more about what is next.
GPRA will also continue to provide advice to all registrars on the appropriate interpretation of the existing NTCER and to assist with resolving concerns that registrars may have with their employment agreements.
Dr Melanie Smith
General Practice Registrars Australia
firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 9629 8878