EXECUTIVE 31 May 2019
Dear Member,

This is the second Executive Direct for 2019, reporting on a recent meeting of your National Executive on Thursday 2 May 2019. We normally send members an Executive Direct after each Executive meeting and also put these on our website (www.asms.org.nz). The Executive will next meet on Wednesday 26 June, the day before the special one-day conference being held in Wellington to mark the Association’s 30 year anniversary.

The Executive meeting discussed a number of issues, including the recruitment of a new Executive Director, action on carbon offsetting, a new ASMS shift working group, preparations for the special anniversary conference, communications planning for next year’s MECA negotiations, a process to manage any changes to ASMS branch names, and DHB remediation regarding the Holidays Act.

Executive Director appointment process

The Executive spent considerable time discussing the process for recruiting a new Executive Director following my foreshadowed departure at the end of this year, and confirming the next steps. The plan is that there will be a period of overlap between the new appointee’s arrival and my departure.

They will be assisted by the firm Martin Jenkins, which will help search for suitable candidates, manage applications, check references and other documents, and provide other advice as needed. Martin Jenkins was chosen from five recruitment agencies which expressed interest in assisting the Executive in this process.

Executive Code of Conduct

For some time the Executive has been working on a code of conduct to assist it in its governance role. The final draft was approved at the 2 May meeting.

DHBs-RDA industrial dispute

The Executive Director provided an update on the long-running employment agreement dispute between the DHBs and the Resident Doctors’ Association, including the then anticipated ‘facilitation process’ (which can include non-binding but persuasive arbitration) applied for by the RDA and accepted by the Employment Relations Authority. The Executive discussed recent developments and noted that the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both ASMS and the RDA would shortly be distributed to members. This has subsequently occurred and is also being discussed with the DHBs individually at our Joint Consultation Committee meetings.

Carbon offsetting

The Executive considered a report on possible measures to offset the Association’s carbon use. This followed a resolution from the ASMS Annual Conference last year that members be encouraged to contemplate the full cost of CME-related air travel, including atmospheric carbon release. To that end, members should consider carbon offsetting, and the Association support employer reimbursement of air travel-related carbon costs as part of legitimate CME travel expenses. The Association itself should move to routine carbon offsetting for work-related air travel for its employees and its members.

Carbon offsetting is the process by which the amount of carbon generated is effectively nullified by investing in projects that reduce carbon. Three areas of potential activity for the Association were identified: offsetting air travel, becoming a carbon certified organisation, and offering our vehicle emissions.

The Executive had reservations about the value of certification to the Association and, after some discussion, decided to approve the other two measures. They also approved the advocacy of DHB-reimbursed air travel carbon offsetting as part of continuing medical education expenses which we are now discussing with individual DHBs through the JCC process.

Draft paper on clinical directors

President Murray Barclay briefed the meeting on a paper he has been developing about the role of clinical directors. This paper is a work in progress.

A new shift working group

The Executive received a report on the establishment of an ASMS shift work group to discuss issues particularly affecting members who work shifts. The group held its first meeting in March, with good regional representation from shift workers, support from Executive member Andrew Ewens and staff in the ASMS national office.

Issues discussed included differences in conditions and remuneration between regions and main centres, appropriate recognition of the onerous nature of after-hours shifts and recovery provisions, impact on wellbeing and career longevity, issues such as night car parking, accommodation and meals, rosters and staffing.

It was planned to hold another working group meeting before July.

New technology for the ASMS national office

The Executive approved unbudgeted costs of $30,000 for the purchase and installation of a fully integrated video conferencing facility. The Association has had video-conferencing for some time but the quality has been uneven. After some investigation, a system has been identified that will better meet the Association’s needs and is likely to result in significant savings if it is used for a number of meetings.

By-election for Executive vacancy

Region 3 Executive member Tim Frendin has resigned from the Executive, with effect from 30 June. He first served on the Executive from April 2009 as a co-opted member, and was elected from April 2011. We would like to acknowledge his significant contribution during his years of service to the national leadership of the Association and wish him well for the future.

His resignation leaves a vacancy on the Executive, and the Association will need to seek a representative from Region 3, which includes members employed within the boundaries of Tairawhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, MidCentral, Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, and Capital & Coast district health boards. A special circular calling for nominations has recently been sent out to members employed in the geographic boundaries of these six DHBs.

Organisation of Annual Conference

The Executive approved the establishment of a new sub-committee made up of Executive members and national office staff to plan the Association’s annual conference each year. It is chaired by National President Murray Barclay.

ASMS membership

The Executive considered a report on the Association’s membership for the year from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. It has started reporting membership numbers differently to reflect the number of actual members as distinct from a higher number which includes members who work for more than one employer.

ASMS had 4,825 actual members at the end of March, an estimated 89.2% of potential eligible members. This includes members working for DHBs as well as salaried members working in other health settings such as hospices, union health clinics, ACC, GP practices, and the Family Planning Association.

This is the 20th year of a successive increase in ASMS membership.

Funding arrangement for 2019

The Executive noted the continuing funding arrangement with the Medical Assurance Society (MAS), which includes a preferred provider arrangement, sponsorship of The Specialist magazine, and a financial contribution toward the Association’s Annual Conference. We are very grateful for this ongoing support and for the good relationship we enjoy with MAS.

30th Anniversary Conference

It is 30 years this year since the Association was formed and the Executive is marking the occasion with a special one-day anniversary conference in Wellington on 27 June. The theme for the event is ‘Why the public health system is worth fighting for’. Executive Director Ian Powell briefed the Executive on preparations for the anniversary conference, including presenters, panels, delegates and the opportunity for a social function at the conclusion.

Confirmed speakers include a keynote address from Professor Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dr Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General of the World Medical Association, Health Minister Dr David Clark, and Dr Samantha Murton, President of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

Their presentations will be live-streamed and we will advise details of how to access this closer to the time.

The anniversary conference will be followed by the annual ASMS Branch Officers’ national workshop the next day.

Developing communications strategy for MECA negotiations

The Executive were briefed on plans to develop a set of short videos ahead of next year’s MECA negotiations for DHB-employed members. The videos, part of the Association’s MECA communications strategy, will be on a variety of topics and feature interviews with front line senior doctors.

Changes to ASMS branch names

After some discussion, the Executive adopted a process for managing changes to Association branch names.

Under the ASMS Constitution, branches are established by the National Executive. While by implication the Executive can name and rename them, there is no process for doing this, and no role for local branch input.

The Executive decided that in future any proposals to change the name of a branch would be deliberated on by the National Executive after consultation with their branch officers and members. This consultation might include an indicative membership ballot.

Health Workforce developments

The Executive considered a report on Ministry of Health moves to absorb the former Health Workforce New Zealand unit and the future of advisory groups such as medical, nursing and allied health.

NZMA Code of Ethics

An update was provided on changes to the New Zealand Medical Association’s Code of Ethics. ASMS was sent proposed changes to the Code, and we provided feedback on what was suggested. A significant point made by the Association’s submission was that the Code did not adequately deal with industrial action as a legal right, and may be motivated by the duty of doctors to be compassionate to their colleagues and themselves.

DHB remediation regarding the Holidays Act

Over recent years the Labour Inspectorate of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment has found systematic non-compliance with the Holidays Act across a range of employers, including DHBs. This has implications for all employees given the Holidays Act is relief upon extensively in collective agreements for the calculation of pay for annual leave and other leave types, even when the actual contractual entitlements to leave are in advance of the minimum entitlements under the Act. A DHB compliance and remediation process is in place, although this has been beset with delays.

DHBs’ action over tripartite and bipartite meetings

The Executive was briefed on an attempt by DHBs to threaten the continuation of the national tripartite and bipartite bodies that include health unions, including the National Consultation Committee comprising ASMS and DHBs. This attempt was unsuccessful. The Association lodged legal proceedings with the Employment Relations Authority over the DHBs’ action against the NJCC and the DHBs subsequently pulled back from their position, not only in respect of the NJCC but also the other national bodies.

Collective bargaining outside DHBs

The Executive considered a report on non-DHB collective bargaining, with the introduction of two new collective agreements, and discussions underway or planned at various workplaces.

Kind regards,

Ian Powell