Together Medical Officers Portal

Queensland Health's "Blueprint for Health"

On 27 February the Premier and the Minister for Health announced a Blueprint for Healthcare in Queensland. The blueprint is here and while some ideas sound positive (for example opportunities for staff to identify waste and inefficiency and greater performance reporting) the report sets out a number of very worrying initiatives. 

 

Streamlined awards and simplified entitlements.


During negotiations for the "core" public service agreement we saw what this government means when they say "simplification" - we know they mean stripping out your conditions and pushing wages, entitlements and conditions down to the lowest common denominator. The implications for medical officers could be that your unique status and conditions are no longer recognised.  

 

The blueprint also says suggests that senior professional roles will be forced away from awards and onto individual contracts and specifically refers to senior medical officers and compares you to the Senior Executive Service within the public service. Currently Senior Officers and SES staff do not have the right to bargain for their conditions. SES staff are on individual contracts and their conditions are largely set by Directive and imposed on them by government.    

 

Outsourcing and privatisation


The blueprint states that "outsourcing, co-sourcing, public-private joint ventures and partnering with other government agencies will be adopted where it is efficient to do so". This is obviously of great concern, as it means private companies will be making a profit by lowering wages and conditions for workers, reducing quality and quantity of services and charging patients. The government has also flagged that the "private and non-government sectors will be invited to partner with the state to provide healthcare facilities, operate services in facilities and to address related healthcare services in the wider community".

 

In the UK, the outsourced health system that the Queensland government used as their model has been shows to exhibit "an institutional culture in which the business of the system was put ahead of the priority that should have been given to the protection of patients and the maintenance of public trust in the service" (read more here). 

 

On top of all this the report shows that the government will seek private investment in capital works projects. We have seen from Mr Newman’s failed tunnels as Lord Mayor that this ideology is a failure and will cost the system money which in the end will mean your jobs and patient care will suffer. 

 

Safety and transparency

 

Privatisation of public hospitals and medical services will mean less accountability and transparency for public money but also less rigid controls of patient safety. Private providers of healthcare do not face the same public scrutiny, are not subject to the CMC or other agencies. Further, clinicians, nurses, allied health practitioners and others will no longer be working for a public employer and will no longer have the same whistleblower protection status.  

 

The Blueprint and the Costello “audit” state that Queensland health is inefficient at providing health services but ignores the improvements in safety and staffing following the Bundaberg Hospital Inquiry. Professor Andrew Wilson (former Deputy D-G of QH) commented on the 7:30 Report recently that the boost to heath funding after the Bundaberg saga had probably the most profound impact on healthcare in Queensland than anything else he had seen. The defunding of health by the current government could lead to significant risk for patients and clinicians, as we return to “pre-Bundaberg” staffing and funding.   

 

All of this is occurring to reduce safety, and to reduce the accountability and transparency of the provision of public health without discussion or input from clinicians or their unions. While at the same time the LNP is taking money from private healthcare providers to discuss their policies. To attend the official Launch of the Blueprint you had to "donate" $200 per head to the LNP and you can now have dinner with the Minister for a $12,000 "fee for service".

 

What you can do right now about the blueprint and privatisation


Together has conducted a poll which shows that over 90% of Queenslanders are against privatisation of public services like health care. The people of Queensland can take a stand and say NO to privatisation and defunding of health. To have your say on privatisation, join the movement today and encourage your friends, neighbours and community to do the same: http://www.workingforqueenslanders.org.au/