MP attacks dentists for “restraint of trade”

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Federal Liberal MP Dr Dennis Jensen attacked both the ADA and the AMA in parliament on Monday, saying both organisations ran a “monopolistic chop shop” by influencing the number of available university places to maintain unreasonably high profits for those currently working in the professions.

The ADA hit back at Dr Jensen’s comments, with Federal President Dr Neil Hewson saying, “Let’s get a few facts straight here-the ADA plays no role whatsoever in determining enrolment numbers for university courses. These comments by Dr Jensen demonstrate a very poor understanding of how dental courses and the number of student places are determined and are simply false.”

Dr Jensen claims were made in the context of explaining the rising cost of health care, and the lack of available services, in his electorate of Tangney. He said that greater competition is needed in health services in order for costs to fall and access to rise: “Removing impediments to the number of new graduates in medicine and dentistry will increase competition in the health marketplace,” he said.

He based his claims of restricting access on information passed to him from the University of Western Australia, where, he says, “certain course convenors who restrict the number of graduates to enter the course as a way of not flooding the market and keeping profits at reasonably high levels”.

Furthermore, he said, “If members of the ADA are protecting their privileged position by restricting competition to keep profits high, the situation needs to be addressed by parliament.”

“The dental profession could not influence student numbers or selection processes at Universities as suggested by Dr Dennis Jensen,” Dr Hewson added.

“It is disappointing that a member of parliament makes such ill-informed statements without investigating the facts first.”

Dr Hewson also pointed out that, as regards the issue of training, before the establishment of three new dental schools the Association argued for increased enrolment numbers and still calls for more funding to dental schools to better train the current number of students. Given the expense of training dentists the ADA has for some time called for proper planning of dental workforce numbers and so has welcomed the establishment of Health Workforce Australia who hopefully will do this.

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