AMA 'condemns' Qld govt's move on Senior Medical Officers
The Federal AMA has condemned the Queensland government's decision to move all Senior Medical Officers in its public hospital system on to unfair and unbalanced individual contracts from 1 July 2014.
Dr Steve Hambleton, AMA President, said the decision would have a dramatic negative effect on medical workforce numbers and patient access to care in Queensland, and warned that the changes could force doctors to move interstate or into private practice.
A meeting of the AMA Council of Salaried Doctors — which included senior public hospital doctors from around the country — resolved unanimously to condemn the proposed changes as a retrograde step that will harm doctors and patients in the Queensland public hospital system.
Dr Hambleton said that Senior Medical Officers in Queensland are currently covered by an enterprise agreement with Queensland Health.
"Successive enterprise agreement negotiations in Queensland have focused on the attraction and retention of Senior Medical Officers," Dr Hambleton said.
"They have helped to significantly lift the number of public hospital doctors in Queensland and have improved access to care for patients.
"The proposed new individual contracts will strip away key employment rights and undermine the progress Queensland has made in growing its public sector medical workforce.
"These draconian contracts will remove key protections such as fatigue provisions and rest breaks, limits on hours, access to unfair dismissal, dispute resolution, and grievance procedures.
"The changes are at odds with the rest of the country and raise genuine serious concerns that many Senior Medical Officers in Queensland will move interstate or abandon the public hospital system to work in private practice.
"Any loss of senior doctors from the public hospital system would make it harder to train the next generation of doctors entering the system to provide care for Queenslanders.
"If the Newman government proceeds with these ideologically-driven changes, Queenslanders will soon find it much harder to access care in their local public hospital and they will experience longer waiting times.
"The AMA urges the government to rethink these changes and to work with the AMA Queensland and the profession to reach employment arrangements that work best for the doctors, their patients, and the Queensland health system," Dr Hambleton said.