Senior doctors at public hospitals across Queensland have been given the green light to sign individual contracts aimed at boosting flexibility and simplicity in a sustainable patient-focused State healthcare system.
Health Minister, Lawrence Springborg, State Cabinet and doctors’ representatives have signed off on the new performance-based contracts, ending eight months of negotiation over the new arrangements.
“These contracts protect the conditions of Senior and Visiting Medical Officers and facilitate new arrangements for the treatment of private patients in public hospitals, on terms fair to both private and public patients,” Mr Springborg said. “The contracts recognise and respect the clinical skills, hard work and dedication of senior doctors.
“It is a milestone – a giant leap forward for Queensland Health – first announced by the Newman Government in our “Blueprint for better health care” in February last year.
“These individual contracts will facilitate closer working relationships between senior clinicians and the sixteen Hospital and Health Boards that drive public patient health care under the devolved model introduced by the Newman Government in 2012.
“This Government is rebuilding Queensland Health from the wreckage left by Labor, and is on track to reestablish Australia’s best public health system here in Queensland.”
Mr Springborg said that after months of often tense discussions, doctors representatives including the AMA, AMAQ, SMO task force, Together and ASMOF all signed letters of support for the implementation of the doctors’ contracts. “From their side, unions and doctors’ professional representatives spiked earlier plans for a campaign of mass resignation and from the Government side, a relaxed deadline will allow doctors until May 31 to sign up,” the Minister said.
The new contracts, which replace an outdated and inflexible system of agreements based on collective bargaining, are aligned with the principles of the Federal ‘Fair Work Act’ and will take effect on August 4.
“These are life-time contracts designed to improve the performance of our health system,” Mr Springborg said. “They also help to simplify our remuneration framework so that the lessons of the 2010 health payroll debacle are well learned.”
The Minister thanked doctors across the State, who joined in negotiations over the contracts, in meetings with the health Director-General, Ian Maynard, through their representatives, in correspondence and via social media. “In these ways, we were able to define the concerns of doctors and adjust the Government’s offer accordingly,” he said.
“Now the process is nearing completion, I will work even harder to build the cooperative relationship between Queensland Health and its clinical leaders.”