“The Journal is an integral function of the AMA, and we intend that the Journal continues to serve the medical community here and overseas for years to come,” A/Prof Owler said.
“In recent years, AMPCo and the MJA, like much of the publishing world in the new digital era, have confronted financial challenges.
“In fact, AMPCo’s financial position has been perilous, on the brink, but hard work by dedicated people at the AMA and AMPCo has improved AMPCo’s outlook.
“But to keep AMPCo on a sound long-term footing, and to ensure the ongoing publication of the MJA, further changes had to be made, including outsourcing some production functions and making AMPCo less dependent on the AMA to remain viable.
“I stress that no editorial functions or roles will be outsourced.”
A/Prof Owler said that AMPCo has been fortunate to have had the services of Professor Stephen Leeder as Editor-in-Chief of the MJA during the past two years.
“We are grateful to Professor Leeder for his service to the MJA. He is a highly respected and distinguished member of the medical profession. He is also a leading light of medical publishing in Australia and internationally as a writer, editor, and opinion leader.
“Unfortunately, agreement could not be reached between the AMPCo Board and Professor Leeder on the tough business decisions AMPCo needed to make to ensure the future of the MJA.
“As a result, the AMPCo Chair terminated Professor Leeder’s tenure as Editor-in-Chief of the MJA.
“There have been a number of comments in the media, particularly the medical press and social media, about the circumstances of Professor Leeder’s termination. Many of these comments are inaccurate and not based on fact.
“A significant number of the MJA Editorial Advisory Committee, some of whom are AMA members, have also resigned. I have thanked them for their service, and asked them to reconsider. I hope that they do so.
“Some of the publicly expressed concern relates to the choice of Elsevier, an international company that produces many journals, including The Lancet, as the company to which AMPCo will outsource some of its production.
“This decision was made after a competitive process, during which the AMPCo Board interrogated Elsevier management to satisfy itself about the company and its reputation.
“While it is regrettable that the AMPCo Board’s decisions to secure the future of the MJA have not been accepted by some people, I want to ensure that the AMA continues to publish a successful medical journal in a tough environment.
“I also want to provide AMA members with sound leadership that ensures value for their membership.
“The AMA believes that the decisions taken by the AMPCo Board will provide a secure future for the MJA and a secure future for the staff, especially the editorial staff, who will maintain the MJA’s standing as one of the world’s leading medical journals,” A/Prof Owler said.
The AMA has been in contact with all AMA members today to inform them of the AMPCo decisions, and explain the background.