AMA Vice President vows to take on ‘external threats’ to the medical profession

Respiratory physician Chris Zappala has taken over the reins as the AMA’s second in charge, vowing to fight the many “external threats” now endangering the medical profession.

The Queensland-based physician and former president of AMA Queensland, named the encroachment of non-medical health practitioners, the tsunami of medical graduates and workforce maldistribution as threats to the profession which the AMA must respond to.

He described how maldistribution of the medical workforce was forcing doctors to “endure nefarious role substitution models which pander to other tribal groups” , with oversupply in some areas pushing public hospital doctors into a “vulnerable enterprise bargaining position”.

Meanwhile, an “exorbitant” number of medical graduates entering the workforce threatens a burgeoning group of vulnerable junior doctors, who “should be assured of a transparent and fair selection and examination processes with open knowledge of workforce trends,” he said in his candidate statement ahead of the May election.

“The AMA has a clear need to strengthen relationships with Colleges and move us collectively in this direction.”

“It is not protectionism to want to preserve the freedom of decision-making for doctors and the ability to charge a fee commensurate with training/expertise and the service provided. This preserves high-quality medicine. Pharmacists, non-medical endoscopists, optometrists all encroach on the medical domain with no decisive rebuttal.”

Dr Zappala also named divestment in general practice, cost-shifting over public hospital funding and the AMA’s declining membership as problems to be tackled.

“As always, there is much to do.  We need the entire AMA family to be effective and united in promoting thoughtful initiatives at every level.  There are too many external threats for us not to be at our most potent, but the AMA will need to do things a little different to achieve this. Hopefully, as AMA Vice President, I can contribute to this.”

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