Queensland doctors are holding a rally against new work contracts they say are unfair and could force them out of the state’s public health system.
Highly skilled doctors say they will walk away from Queensland’s public health system unless the state government abandons controversial new work contracts.
A rally is being staged on Wednesday afternoon at Ipswich Hospital – the latest action by doctors who say the contracts offer them little security and could compromise patient care.
Dr Rob Thomas, who has been with Queensland Health for 14 years, is one of about 100 doctors expected to attend the rally.
He says the contracts allow changes to be made without written consent as well as remove unfair dismissal provisions, include unattainable key performance indicators, and don’t consider fatigue management.
The contracts also mean doctors could be sent anywhere in their health district, which might be hundreds of kilometres from their families, he says.
Dr Thomas, who has specialised in anaesthesia, intensive care and pain medicine, says he’s looking at his options in private hospitals.
“I will certainly be walking if this happens and I certainly am aware of other major specialties that are not easily replaced – for example transplant surgeons – who are quite prepared to take their skills elsewhere,” Dr Thomas told AAP.
“You have to draw a line in the sand somewhere about your life.
“If they’re going to impose untenable conditions that put yourself at professional risk … then you have to move on.”
Dr Thomas said doctors felt frustrated about having to mount a campaign against the contracts.
“Doctors don’t want to get involved in political conflict,” he said.
“We want to resolve these issues and what isn’t being seen are the months and months of attempts to negotiate with the government and we are being stonewalled and just being given ‘party line’ responses.”
Unions have warned that many of the state’s 3500 senior medical officers could move interstate or into the private system as early as the end of March.
Assistant Health Minister Dr Chris Davis, a former president of the Australian Medical Association Queensland, has also threatened to quit cabinet if the new contracts cause patient harm.
But the government says the contracts are a good deal for doctors, and a lot of misinformation is being circulated.
Premier Campbell Newman this week urged doctors to see through that and consider how the contracts would improve things.
“They are getting the best deal of any state and it is also a better deal than they would get in the private sector as well,” Mr Newman told parliament on Tuesday.