MTAA Chair Message


The MTAA Chair, Gavin Fox-Smith message to members & supporters of the medical technology industry (an excerpt from the MTAA Annual Report 2016/17).

The 2016-17 financial year has been one of challenge and change for the Medical Technology Industry in Australia. I want to thank all of you for your contribution and support as our industry confronted a very disruptive period.

I have had the privilege of working in the medical device industry for three decades, including the last three years as Chair of the Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA). While change has been a constant in our industry, what hasn’t changed is the dedication and commitment of the more than 19,000 professionals working to make a positive difference to patients’ lives through innovative medical technology. I am proud to work alongside you and proud to have led the MTAA during this critical juncture for our industry.

The Australian healthcare system is world class and so is our MedTech industry, bringing research and innovation, improved health outcomes, manufacturing, employment, education and training which positively impacts the Australian community and the economy. Advances in healthcare and patient outcomes are simply not possible without our industry and our work reduces costs and recovery times in the healthcare space.

Global advances in medical technology over the past 20 years have resulted in a 56% reduction in hospital stays, a 25% decline in disability rates, a 16% in annual mortality and increased life expectancy of more than three years. That is a record to be proud of.

Agreement with the Federal Government

Earlier this year, the Government announced $86 million in savings from the Prostheses List which came into effect in February 2017. Along with a sustained and unfair campaign from the Private Health Insurance industry, it signalled the beginning of negotiations on the future of our industry in Australia.

In November 2016, the Senate referred an inquiry into price regulation associated with the Prostheses List Framework to the Standing Committee on Community Affairs. During the inquiry, MTAA was a strong and effective voice for the industry, providing detailed submissions as well as evidence at the Committee’s public hearings. The Association’s representation was supported by the submissions and evidence of individual member companies.

A number of MTAA’s recommendations and policy positions were adopted or recognised by the Senate Committee in its May 2017 report, and accordingly we welcomed the Committee’s recommendations.

The Committee’s report noted that medical devices account for only 14 cents in every dollar paid in private health insurance reimbursements and that, while the cost of prostheses is one aspect which influences the costs of private health insurance premiums, increasing community utilisation is a key factor.

Following 5 months of intensive negotiation with Government, on 11 October 2017, MTAA signed a historic Agreement with the Federal Government.

While the Agreement includes further savings to the Prostheses List, it also delivers four years of certainty and stability for the industry and a pathway to broader beneficial reforms. The Agreement also acknowledges the evidence based data put forward by the industry and rejected the misleading claims of $800 million in savings that were promoted by the Private Health Insurance industry.

This outcome is the result of hard work and advocacy from many at MTAA and from industry. During this financial year, MTAA and members participated in over 100 meetings of various Working Groups, and Committees to develop an evidence based negotiation position and advocacy program. Along with our CEO Ian Burgess, and other members of the MTAA, we increased our advocacy in Canberra with the Minister and key Government and bureaucratic stakeholders.

The four-year Agreement will implement Prostheses List reductions totalling $303 million per year. These savings are very significant and will undoubtedly result in major impacts on the industry, including job losses, reduced R&D spending, reduced education and training for healthcare professionals and reduced investment in clinical trials.

Key Government commitments in the Agreement

  1. No further reductions in Prostheses List benefits during the term of the Agreement unless approved by MTAA.
  2. Establishing a $30 million MedTech and biotech grants program available for small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) and researchers who partner with SMEs for conducting activities that contribute to making patient’s lives better through the development of new and innovative technologies.
  3. Ensuring patients in the private sector access safe and effective prostheses in a timeframe closer to that of public patients by reducing duplication in assessment between the TGA and the PLAC.
  4. Increasing the frequency of listing of the Prostheses List from two to three times a year. This results in faster access to technologies and ultimately increases the value of private health insurance for patients.
  5. Reviewing, through the PLAC, ways of listing nonimplantable medical devices to support private health insurance reimbursement for a wider range of clinically effective and cost effective medical devices. This ensures patients in the private sector have access to innovative technologies already available in the public sector and was a key recommendation from MTAA.

The Agreement will provide the industry with much needed stability and allows the industry to do what it does best – assist patients to lead healthier and more productive lives.

Honouring Steadfast Support and Achievement

The MTAA Board firmly believes it is vital for an industry association to have a strong and supportive membership base. We are committed to remaining relevant to all our members. We thank and recognise all our member companies for their contribution to the industry and their support through membership to further the important activities of MTAA.

Each year at the MedTech Industry Awards Dinner, we say a special thank you and recognise those members who have been continuously committed to MTAA for the last 10, 20, 25 and 30 years.

Last year marked 35th years of continuous operations of the Association, and with that we celebrated our founding members who have been with us for all of those 35 years. The following companies reached some big milestones and they were recognised for their support in November when we recognised the following companies for their continuous membership:

For 20 years of continuous membership:

  • Boston Scientific

For 30 years of continuous membership:

  • Becton Dickinson

For 35 years of continuous membership:

  • 3M Healthcare Pty
  • Abbott Vascular
  • Alcon Laboratories
  • Allergan Australia
  • Johnson & Johnson Medical
  • Smith & Nephew
  • Terumo Australia
  • W. L. Gore and Associates
  • Zimmer Biomet

We also believe it is important to recognise outstanding individuals who have dedicated their careers to the Medical Technology Industry in Australia. We do this by occasionally honouring such people through life membership of the MTAA.

In 2016 we recognised David Ross. During his 15 years with MTAA, David served on several key national committees and provided invaluable advice and support to members on a wide range of issues. Honorary Life Membership of MTAA is awarded to those who have given long and meritorious service to our industry.

In concluding, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the MTAA Board and Committee chairs and volunteers for their steadfast support and wise counsel throughout this year. I also recognise the work of our former CEO, Susi Tegen, who stepped down in September 2016 due to ill health. I would like to thank both Allison Fox and Andrea Kunca who jointly managed the Association prior to the appointment of our new CEO, Ian Burgess, in February 2017. Ian has successfully guided the Association through an incredibly challenging period and I am thankful for his support and guidance.

I look forward to the year ahead with renewed optimism given the challenging year the industry has endured. As MTAA members we must continue to highlight the important and life-saving work our industry undertakes in Australia and continue to celebrate our contribution and achievements.

Gavin Fox-Smith

MTAA Chair