Together Medical Officers Portal

Support a fair agreement for wages and conditions for Queensland’s doctors

Posted by Alex Scott on May 28, 2012

Dear Mr Springborg and Dr O’Connell, I support Queensland’s doctors who are asking you to meet with their industrial representatives urgently to work towards a fair agreement for wages and conditions which help deliver better quality care to the people of Queensland and their families.

The Queensland Government needs to listen to doctors on the subject of health care and sustainable working conditions.

The Queensland Health system is at a cross roads and the new government has an opportunity to take it down the right path, but they need to listen to and act on the concerns of medical staff.

My name is Dr Bruce Burrow, I have been a medical specialist in the Qld public sector and member of the public system’s Full- Time Medical Specialists Association as well as a (public sector) Together union member for approximately 3 decades.

Doctors across the State tell me of the many challenges they face as demand for services increase while hospital budgets tighten.

Many essential areas have staffing levels, rostering and other practices that are unsustainable and fail to meet clinical demand. These pressures make it harder to recruit and retain good doctors in the public system.

Most Queenslanders would remember the horrible state our hospitals were in at the beginning of the last decade. Unless attention is paid to maintaining continually improving conditions rather than allowing them to decline the path we are on could lead to the same dysfunction in the provision of acute health care. Queensland patients, and their families cannot afford a return to the bad old days.

For the past 4 months doctors through their union, Together Queensland, have tried to reach agreement on a fair replacement agreement. The tragedy is that doctors want to partner with QH in making changes in a sustainable way but their offers have been resoundingly rejected.

Doctors have reached a deadlock with departmental negotiators and have invited the Director- General and Minister to meet with them to break it but apparently they have other priorities.

What message does this rejection send? Is it that QH does not trust its doctors? does not care about its doctors? is trying to get blood out of stone? gives no credit to its doctors for holding an imperfect system together or for improving its bottom line by hundreds of millions of dollars through their ‘private practice’ earnings donated to the State?

It is hard to believe that the sticking points to reaching agreement include commonsense measures such as

  • Maintaining the value of the current salary package by building in cost of living adjustments – something agreed to recently for other health professionals
  • Treating doctors as partners in the provision of public health services rather than a resource to be exploited - particularly in relation to proposed new private practice arrangements and the implementation of greatly extended hours
  • Adequate staffing for the implementation of extended hours in a sustainable manner which also provides a reasonable work/life balance and best practice rostering. Extended hours without these will see mistakes of the past repeated and it will be just a matter of time before there is another 2005-like crisis in recruitment and retention of doctors, deaths from doctors under pressure, or the collapse of vital services such as Emergency Departments.
  • Ensuring clinical managers of medical professionals are not only competent but are provided with adequate resources to enable them to meet key performance indicators
  • Retaining, not scrapping, successful incentives for working shift work in Emergency Departments and incentives for doctors to take positions in regional areas that have recruitment and retention problems

On behalf of my doctor colleagues in the public system, I'm starting this petition to ask for your support in calling on the new government to intervene in negotiations and work with doctors to improve our hospital system, for the good of all Queenslanders.

Please sign this petition to support Queensland’s doctors as we ask for better conditions for a better Queensland Health
Dr Bruce Burrow

The petition is now closed.