A commitment to protect Senior and Visiting Medical Officers from the previously unfettered power of the Director General of Queensland Health was delivered to doctors by the Queensland Parliament tonight.
Legislation, passed by MPs, will provide doctors with unique and highly-valued life-long contracts to boost the performance of the Queensland public health system, with key protections backed by law.
The Hospital and Health Boards Amendment Bill 2014 arose out of recent talks with senior doctors and delivers guarantees they sought in the discussions. Drawn up by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, the bill guarantees to doctors that, once signed, their individual contracts cannot be varied to their detriment, without an Act of Parliament.
For doctors, this legislative change provides certainty and clarity. It puts an end to doubts and misinformation.
The Bill provides that a so-called Health Employment Directive by the Director General or an employment regulation cannot impact on a doctor’s contract except in cases where increased remuneration or improved benefits (such as State-wide pay-rises) for doctors are provided.
“The Parliament voted to expedite the passage of this bill this sittings, so that there can be no doubt among doctors that the Government’s word on contracts is its bond,” Mr Springborg said. “Although the Labor Opposition refused to prioritise the bill, its speedy passage was assured with support from the cross benches.
“Just a fortnight ago Labor voted to support all the recommendations of Auditor General in his report into private practice arrangements in our public hospitals,” Mr Springborg said. “Tonight, they opposed this same vital reform. Their draconian amendments would hobble the performance of the public health system and deprive public patients of their entitlement to fair treatment.
“Tonight, parliamentarians put an end to powers of the Director General that have existed for about 15 years.”
Mr Springborg urged Senior and Visiting Medical Officers to look closely at the Government’s contract framework, to discuss the details with their Hospital and Health Service and to sign the new contracts by April 30. He thanked the chair of the Parliament’s Health and Community Safety Committee, Member for Kallangur, Trevor Ruthenberg and other speakers for their contribution to the debate.