Medical officers in this election

Posted on January 22, 2015

In this election period we are seeking commitments from the major parties and candidates about issues that directly impact on the medical profession and the health workforce and will be reporting those back to you to keep you informed.

Last night Queensland Opposition Health Minister Jo-Ann Miller and federal Labor Opposition Health Minister Catherine King met with a small group of doctors  at an event convened by the Labor candidate for Mount Coot-tha, Steven Miles. Steven had organised the event at the behest of local doctors living and working in the electorate who wanted answers to questions about the ALP's plans for doctors as a workforce and for critical health services.

We had a broad representation from the profession present – GPs, SMOs, VMOs and specialists operating in private practice.

Many questions were asked of the politicians and candidates.  Here are the top 3 state election commitments that were outlined for doctors working in Queensland public hospitals and state-wide services:

  1. The ALP have committed to end unfair and unreasonable individual contracts and reinstate collective bargaining and unfair dismissal rights for all doctors. 

    The ALP will do this with the repeal of the amendments to the Industrial Relations Act made in 2013 which mandated the contracts and precluded SMOs from rights to unfair dismissal under the Act.

    This will ensure new specialists have certainty of conditions and are not disadvantaged in comparison to existing SMOs.

    This will restore the rights of SMOs to have a say in your industrial conditions, negotiate important changes together and feel certain about what your wages and conditions will be rather than working with the fear of unilateral changes to a contract by the DG or CEO.
  2. The ALP will not privatise Pathology Queensland. All "contestability" processes will be suspended immediately.
  3. The ALP will establish a Commission of Inquiry into the decisions and circumstances surrounding the closure of the Barrett Centre adolescent mental health unit at Wacol.

Labor will appoint a retired judge under the Commissions of Inquiry Act to conduct the inquiry with full powers to summon witnesses and call for the presentation of all relevant documents.

The ALP will also commission a facility to replace the Centre and continue on the important work that was being done there for young people.

There was a wide-ranging discussion at the event and several other issues were canvassed including the rushed opening of the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital and the ongoing damaging impacts on patients, families and staff that an under-resourced and rushed opening of the new facility has created.

The ALP will work with clinicians and families to address issues. They will not be sweeping these concerns away as "teething problems" but as serious and needing to be looked at. The view of those present was that failing to put the interests of patients ahead of the political convenience of the Minister around the hospital opening was irresponsible at best.

A separate update will be prepared regarding the comments made by federal Opposition Health Minister Catherine King for circulation later this week.

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