Katter warns minister over senior doctors’ contracts

rob-katterThe Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter has written to Queensland’s Health Minister, Hon Lawrence Springborg about the new individual contracts senior doctors are being asked to sign, warning him it could result in a mass exodus of senior doctors, consultants and specialists from the Queensland public health system.

“I’ve had 85 emails from senior doctors throughout Queensland over the last week or so, and every single one of them said they would seriously consider leaving Queensland Health unless the Government makes an effort to re-negotiate on these contracts,” Mr Katter said.

He summarised the concerns of Senior Medical Officers (SMOs):

· The contract can be detrimentally unilaterally amended without notice or consultation with SMOs

· Independent arbitration has been removed as a dispute settlement process

· Up to one sixth of their salary is at risk, based on undefined performance parameters

· The SMO can be forced to participate in shift rosters, e.g. permanent night shifts

· The SMO can be forced to work shifts in a distant location from their usual hospital

· There has been legislative removal of access to unfair dismissal claims

· The employer can arbitrarily terminate SMOs without cause at any time

· SMOs have been told they will lose a third of their current salary from 1 July 2014, if they do not sign the new contract by 30 April 2014

“This is not about money; it’s about senior doctors being coerced into signing a contract that appears to be manifestly unfair and removes any enterprise bargaining and other employment rights.

“There’s an inadequate process for dispute resolution, with no binding arbitration, a loss of unfair dismissal protections and no definition of the Key Performance Indicators they’ll be held to.

“In addition the contracts can be changed at any time unilaterally by Queensland Health; no wonder doctors have sought legal advice, and no wonder the advice is, ‘Don’t sign’.”

Mr Katter said Mount Isa Hospital was especially vulnerable if its senior doctors decided to leave Queensland Health.

“I am very concerned about the impact on our hospital which has been built up so well over the past five years; I don’t want to see all that good work come crashing down as our senior, valued doctors seek work in other states, or in the private sector.”