Together Medical Officers Portal

21 March meeting update

Posted by Alex Scott on March 23, 2012

Together is a union of employees representing many public sector employees including junior and senior medical officers throughout Queensland. We represent doctors on many levels – at the workplace, within committees and consultative forums in Queensland Health, the Qld Industrial Relations Commission, and other tribunals and authorities. Very importantly, we are proud to be the senior and most experienced union at the current doctors’ agreement negotiating table. Please feel free to forward this entry on to your friends and colleagues.

The main agenda items at this week’s MOCA3 meeting were the MO3-4 advancement scheme, and a continuation of discussions on private practice including Option A’s superannuation  status.


A number of concerns about the current application process for appointment to MO3 and MO4 levels were raised by the parties including

  1. The level of dissatisfaction with the process
  2. The relevance of a one-size-fits-all approach
  3. Understanding of the intentions of the process
  4. The time delays in processing applications to the point of sign off by the Director-General
  5. The delay in commencement of the 2011 round and consequent financial detriment to successful applicants
  6. The limitations in the system for recognizing clinical excellence and commitment
  7. The disparity between metro and non-metro outcomes
  8. The disparity between craft group outcomes
  9. The outcomes truly reflecting eminence and pre-eminence

The parties examined the MO3-4 process data and identified interests in (or an interest in exploring)

a)      better informing staff about the process

b)      reviewing criteria to ensure craft groups have equitable access to circumstances that allow them to meet the criteria

c)       ensuring equitable access to the scheme for non-specialists and

d)       coordinating the Clinical Excellence Awards with the MO3-4 process so achievements of one can feed into the other

e)      recognizing long and meritorious clinical service to QH.

In terms of the last-mentioned item, Together put forward an option for QH to consider and cost. We proposed additional pay points above MO2-3 comparable with MO3 and 4 that were accessible after 5 years’ confirmed meritorious service at each level (confirmed perhaps with a senior management performance review) and for a similar advancement from MO3 to MO4. This alternate process would not just compensation for years of service.  If such a proposal were adopted it would mean that there were two routes to the highest levels of remuneration with only one delivering the recognition of a high level of excellence and the titles ‘Eminent’ and ‘Pre-eminent’. The ability to apply to be assessed and potentially receive an immediate appointment at the MO3 or MO4 levels would still exist.

Private Practice (continued)

Queensland Health provided us with some draft proposed clauses for MOCA3 in relation to private practice reform and draft terms of reference for a reform committee. As these documents were not provided to us in advance we have taken them away for consideration and revision as we see fit. No clause will be included in MOCA3 unless we are satisfied of the direction the reform will take and that change will be by agreement only otherwise the status quo should prevail.

Option A – superannuable salary

In discussions about private practice reform, Together volunteered their members’ interest in having Option A payments incorporated into base salary. Originally this payment in lieu of private practice was a much smaller percentage of overall income but as it has grown it has paradoxically decreased its relative value. The reason for this is that now a much greater proportion of a SMO’s income is considered not to be part of superannuable salary. This clearly has implications for superannuation and it greatly reduces the amount payable as income support in cases of long term sick leave. The fact that the federal government has this week legislated for the gradual increase in the superannuation guarantee levy strengthens the case for including Option A in base salary.

QH agreed to cost this option.

Without prejudice

It is important to emphasise that though these matters are being discussed and options fleshed out, the discussions are all ‘without prejudice’ and the subject matter may or may not ultimately form part of a package offered to Medical Officers.


The world of industrial issues continues to turn even though at times it seems like MOCA3 negotiations is the ‘only game on in town’.  We’d like to briefly mention just two others that may be of interest to, or directly affecting, members now.

Threats to withdraw Option A payments and ‘forced’ bulk billing

With QH’s new desire to maximize own source revenue a number of Districts have charged ahead ‘wielding a big stick’ to SMOs to bill in circumstances where they have never billed before, in ways that give rise to concerns about legality and indemnity, and to participate in bulk billing GP clinics. It is worrying that the pressure being exerted extends to threats to withdraw Option A payments.

We cannot emphasise more strongly that none of these activities should be occurring – particularly in the context of current negotiations to reform private practice. We urge all members to report to us any examples of pressure of this kind.

No confidence motion at RBWH

We understand that at a staff association meeting at RBWH this week a motion of no confidence was passed in a senior manager for deciding to not exercise an option to renew Executive Director contracts.

This case highlights the need for better communication/consultation but also better understanding of employment arrangements in the public sector to avoid unnecessary conflict.

Together will strongly advocate that QH should appoint senior clinicians to Director of Clinical Service roles, and promote and identify the importance of clinician input to decision-making.  However executive level positions are not now and never have been positions that are subject to MOCA or required to be filled by clinicians. Those positions are subject to a different set of conditions for senior executives similar to those applied across government.

In simplest terms:

  1. It is standard practice across whole of government for senior executives to be engaged on temporary contracts
  2. There is no obligation for management to exercise an option to renew such a contract
  3. Senior executive roles are not tenured positions
  4. It is standard whole of government practice that employees who vacate their substantive position for a period of over 12 months be asked to make a decision to either relinquish their role or return to it.

It is important that any member considering accepting an executive level appointment be aware of this different employment framework and seek good advice from their union if they are unsure.

We hope you continue to follow our blogs and give us your feedback as we go. The blog is an innovation to the union’s bargaining plan and represents an unprecedented opportunity for Medical Officers to participate in real-time in the negotiations by emailing your comments to .  It is important too that you are talking to other members in your workplace about the negotiations and encouraging non-member colleagues to join. The more involvement from grass roots membership the better outcomes we will achieve together.