Dear Members,

Further to our newsletter of Dec 22, I am writing to give you all an update and urge you to renew your membership of MSASA for 2023.

Since my update at this time last year, the MSASA executive has been busy engaging with the Medicare Review Advisory Committee (MRAC).   We have achieved success at the Medicare Review, whereby all the recommendations of the original Medicare Review have been dismissed. Your Executive (along with other organisations including COPS and the AMA) has worked tirelessly on this matter since 2015 and after 8 long years have been successful in maintaining the status quo for all doctors involved in surgical assisting.

More recently, MSASA has been engaging with an MRAC subcommittee – The Surgical Assistant Working Group (SAWG).   This subcommittee was formed to:

  1. review the original recommendations of the Medicare Review Taskforce  and
  2. respond to a request from the peri-operative nurse surgical assistants for access to CMBS rebates at the same level as doctors when providing private surgical assisting services.

The SAWG sub-committee contends that there is a shortage of private surgical assistants (despite their being little or no evidence of this).   The members of the SAWG include nurse practitioners as well as health bureaucrats. There are 2 surgeons and no surgical assistant representatives on this committee.

MSASA was invited to make submissions to this group, which involved two written documents and an attendance by myself at a Zoom meeting in April last year.

Whilst we were able to rebut all the arguments put forward to the subcommittee to allow PNSAs (peri-operative nurse surgical assistants) access to the CMBS schedule, the Medicare Review Advisory Committee has recommended to Government that patients of appropriately qualified registered nurses should be given equal access to the CMBS rebates relating to surgical assistance as doctors currently receive. It is MSASA’s view that the recommendation of the SAWG was already determined before we were invited to make a submission.  Although we responded to the draft report of the MRAC with strong criticism, we have not been provided with a copy of the final report, which was sent to Government in February this year.

Our next steps will involve lobbying of the Health Minister, Shadow Health Minister and possibly other members of Parliament, to advise them directly of our serious concerns with the recommendations of the SAWG, in particular the lack of evidence to justify them, and the likely unintended consequences of instituting them.

The MRAC Draft report is available to view on our website, and I encourage you all to read it by following the link in the members’ section.

MSASA has also been working hard to investigate the feasibility of providing our own CPD Home in 2024.  Initial investigations involved studying other colleges’ CPD programmes and how they were administered. AHPRA finally released detailed requirements for CPD homes in August 22. We identified that there would need to be a significant input of man-hours to perform a full feasibility study, so we set-up a 12 member CPD home subcommittee, comprising some members of the executive, and also volunteers from our general membership. The workload was divided between separate teams, who met frequently to collate information and provide very detailed analysis between Sept and Dec 2022.

On review of the very detailed report provided by the sub-committee, it was determined by the executive that setting up a CPD home does not stack up financially for a small organisation like ours.

I would like to personally thank all the members of the CPD home subcommittee for their hard work under a deadline.

We are now looking at alternative ways to support our members with CPD requirements.

MSASA are currently in talks with RACGP, AMA WA (“Cpdhome”, and the old “Doctor Portal Learning”), Osler Community, and RACS.   We see ourselves as a possible gateway to a preferred CPD Home provider for MSAs.   MSASA can add value by supplying educational content, vetting of content, advising members on their Personal Development Plans (PDP), or by supplying audit services to the recommended CPD Home.

We expect to have a plan in place in second half of 2023, well in advance of the Jan 2024 commencement of compulsory CPD home membership.

We are also in the planning stages of the next MSASA conference and will advise members when further details are available.

I would like to remind all members of the ongoing support of MIGA to members of our organisation.   They are our preferred provider of indemnity insurance and offer discounted subscriptions to MSASA members. After a very successful initial 3 year partnership, we renewed our partnership with MIGA in 2022 for another 3 years.     

Wishing you all a successful 2023,

Yours sincerely,

Dr Nigel Munday
President MSASA 2022

MSASA Autumn 2023 Newsletter
MRAC Surgical Assistant Draft Final Report