In Focus by Andrew McKinnon

Membership Renewals Are Happening Now!

When you’re busy in the consulting room, you need to know that someone is out there looking after your interests. Someone you can call if an employment matter crops up, of if the HCCC sends you one of 'those' letters. That’s why you’re a member of the Association – and why we hope you’ll continue to be long into the future!

You should have received and email with your renewal details enclosed. If not, please call (02) 9712 2199 or email us and we’ll fix that up for you straight away.

Optometry Giving Sight

When renewing, remember to support Optometry Giving Sight!

Optometry Giving Sight is our profession’s charity, helping millions of people around the world to see through the simple expedient of an eye exam and a pair of spectacles. When you’re renewing your membership, if you’re able to, please support OGS by clicking the image below – their work is invaluable!


The OA NSW/ACT Ski Conference is Back!

August 24-26, Thredbo Alpine Resort

After an absence of several years, the ski conference returns to a mountain near you. There will be 8 hours of scintillating CPD and many more of exhilarating skiing!

CPD points TBA, but expect around 18-24. The lecture schedule will be released as soon as it is finalised.

IMPORTANT NOTE: accommodation is filling fast, so if you plan on going, we recommend booking now. To register, click here.

Locums - Understanding What it Means

We’re going to write an extended advisory on this shortly, but as a very brief overview:

  • A locum is, by definition, a temporary or short-term appointment. The Australian Taxation Office does not recognize the concept of a 'permanent locum' – anyone who regularly attends a place of work for a period exceeding 12 months is, for the ATO’s purposes, a part time employee.
  • Superannuation – as a locum, unless you are trading through a Pty Ltd company or a Trust, your employer MUST pay superannuation on your behalf into an approved super fund.
  • Employers are particularly at risk if they enter into 'creative' arrangements with locums. The ATO has extraordinary powers to levy fines and penalties. Even if you want to challenge them, you must pay the fine first and then go to court to try and get it back!

As noted, we’ll issue a more extensive advisory on this shortly, but in the meantime if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Fair Work Varies Minimum Pay Rates

The Fair Work Commission has announced a variation to the minimum rate of pay for adult employees in Australia. This will flow on at least in part to Awards and those changes will be announced in the coming weeks. We’ll let you know what the changes are as soon as we receive the information.

Your Own Practice - Seminar Video

Late last year the Division ran a seminar on getting into your own independent practice. The video of the seminar is available to view by clicking here.

Your Association - Our Support for You

Each month we bring you a short article about things that the Association is doing to support members.

We all send reminders or make referrals – but how often should we do so? And what if a patient doesn’t follow up the referral – should we chase them up? This is a very common question – with some possibly surprising answers:

What are my obligations when a patient doesn’t attend an ophthalmologist, even though they have a serious condition which could result in blindness or worse

A very interesting question. Broadly speaking, you have an obligation to follow up with the patient to try and encourage them to attend. It could be that they didn’t understand the seriousness of the situation or felt that it wasn’t urgent.

At the very least you should try to call them and if you don’t get through, send an SMS or an email – or both. You should make 3-4 documented attempts to contact the patient – of course, with everything being well recorded in the clinical notes.

But let’s say that the patient won’t take your calls, or they do talk to you but dismiss your concerns.

You could (and should) contact the patient’s GP (if known) and talk to them about your concerns. There are no privacy concerns in doing so.

In some cases you may have an argument to contact a family member if, for example, you feel that a patient perhaps doesn’t understand (for example if they are suffering a cognitive impairment). In cases like this, provided you have reasonable grounds for the concern, then again the Privacy Act will protect you, because you are acting in the patient’s best interests.

But what if the patient is completely au-fait with what is happening and simply doesn’t want to hear it?

Well, as hard as this is, everyone has a right to go blind or die if that is their choice. You should make every reasonable effort, but at some point you will cross the line into harassment – which is why I said 3-4 attempts should be about your limit.

Make sure everything is well documented – and hope that this never happens to you, as it is a very disheartening experience

As we say, the Association is here to safeguard and enhance your interests. We have extensive expertise, backed by specialist professional resources. That’s why you belong!