The ASO safeguards the political and legal interests of all ophthalmologists. All ophthalmologists, whether practising, retired or in training, should consider membership of the ASO as a priority.
When confronting contentious issues such as allied health practitioner incursions into the field of medical practice, ASO’s negotiation capability is strengthened by the proportion of professionals who are members.
Message from the President
From inception, it was intended that the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists (ASO) would manage the role of medico-political lobbying for our profession.
Through numerous high-profile and controversial issues, ASO has earned respect as a reasonable voice, able to exert substantial influence in the political environment to achieve its members’ desired objectives.
Like most Australians, ophthalmologists were shocked when the Rudd government slashed cataract rebates. This ideologically-driven decision galvanised our profession and angered our patients.
The flaws in the government's health policy were recognised by the Senate, twice. This forced the government into extensive negotiation between the ASO executive and the Minister's office. The result was that the cataract rebate was reinstated nearly to its original level (a discount of 12% on the original rate).
This was a sound and sensible outcome for Australians suffering potential blindness.
As a consequence, the ASO grew substantially in stature but the issue was a sharp reminder that there is no substitute for being well-prepared, resourced and committed to success.
With this in mind, we need to ensure that this does not occur ever again.
This means we must invest sufficient time, financial resources and active lobbying in the corridors of power across the nation to ensure our voice is heard and those we represent receive the protection they deserve.
Today, of course, we are embroiled in another controversy that has even more far-reaching consequences: the extension of scopes of practice for allied health practitioners without expert clinical review.
Again in the interests of patient safety and wellbeing the ASO has initiated legal action against the Optometry Board of Australia and its superior entity, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. We are deeply grateful for the commitment and support of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists in this cause.
While the ASO greatly appreciates the financial support that has been provided by many individual ophthalmologists, as well as state branch organisations, we need more. Advocacy is capital intensive. If we wish to be considered a major player in Canberra, we need long-term sustained financial backing.
The ASO will always speak out as the political voice of mainstream ophthalmology, in constant contact with the RANZCO board and the broad ophthalmology membership.
I urge all ophthalmologists to join the ASO, for without widespread financial support, sustained lobbying is not possible.
Click here to join the ASO today.
Dr. Michael Steiner