Individual doctors’ contracts will be merged with the contract addendum and re-issued State-wide as part of a clean-up to resolve issues causing friction among doctors.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says weeks of face-to-face meetings, conducted by Health Director General, Ian Maynard, meetings with representative groups and online feedback to the @DrContractFacts social media stream had defined the core remaining professional concerns of the medical workforce.
“Our goal is to ensure that SMOs and VMOs who lead the clinical delivery of our public health service understand and have full confidence in the contracts that take effect from July 7,” Mr Springborg said.
“These changes remove the remaining doubts. They provide reassurance that any continuation of the damaging campaign currently advocated by unions is unnecessary.
“These individual contracts will provide a simplified and flexible work environment while key concerns raised recently by the Auditor General are addressed.”
Mr Springborg said at present issues that arose and were addressed in talks with doctors’ representatives last month were being answered through commitments documented by the Government in a separate contract addendum.
“Across the State, though, doctors want to see matters covered by the addendum contained within the contract document itself,” he said.
“The absence of a single updated text will not continue to derail support or to create undue uncertainty.”
Mr Springborg said another change to arise from recent commentary was the removal of the term ‘profitability’ from any part of the contract.
“At present, this term arises in a section about termination and is intended to promote respect for and the protection of public health resources,” he said.
“But I recognise that phraseology has caused concern among some doctors and following a review of other provisions in the contract, the Government has agreed to delete any such reference.”
The Health Minister said that while contracts were re-issued, associated activity, including the creation of a Contracts Advisory Committee, to advise the Director General on future contract developments, was proceeding.
Following consultation with doctors’ representative groups, the Director General will establish a committee of nine members, with an independent chair; three representatives of Hospital and Health Services, a departmental representative and four doctor’s representatives elected by secret ballot.
Mr Springborg said the development of key performance indicators was another area in which administrative practices would change. The State’s Clinical Senate, comprising representatives of all clinical specialities and chaired by Dr David Rosengren, will advise the Minister on the process, leading up to the effective implementation of KPIs in 2016. The change would help ensure that KPIs work to advance clinical practice and build co-operative strategies between HHSs and local clinicians.
Mr Springborg said he was confident that doctors would have sufficient time to sign and submit their contract by April 30.