The Australian Medical Association has misgivings about individual contracts for Queensland’s senior doctors, but says the minister is now listening.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has praised Queensland’s health minister for being more conciliatory towards doctors opposed to individual work contracts.
Lawrence Springborg met with AMA president Steve Hambleton and senior Queensland Health bureaucrats at state parliament on Thursday night.
While the one-and-a-half hour meeting didn’t discuss the AMA’s six key concerns over proposed contracts for senior medical officers, Dr Hambleton said the minister’s tone had improved.
“He certainly had a wish to build a relationship with the doctors, not to break it down and that was a breakthrough,” he told reporters on Friday.
“Rather than the brick wall that we’ve seen up ’til now, there was a recognition something needs to change.”
Mr Springborg has confirmed that a negotiation on the key sticking points would begin on Monday, but insisted he wouldn’t revisit legislative changes passed by parliament which removed the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission from dispute resolutions.
Instead, the doctors and local hospital boards would choose an industrial mediator, when the new contracts come into force in July, but the government may alter how this umpire is chosen.
Still, Dr Hambleton said the AMA remained concerned about health bosses gaining the power to override contract clauses and change their rosters without consultation.
“One of the doctors at that meeting described the future as a potential train wreck – that is a real issue,” he said.
“There are already doctors who have taken jobs in other states rather than wait for the final moment.
“We will have a net loss of doctors from Queensland if we don’t get this fixed.”
Some 900 doctors gathered at a Brisbane hotel on Wednesday night to pass a motion of no confidence against Mr Springborg.
The government argues its new deal raises severance pay and stops them from being transferred anywhere in the state, but Dr Hambleton is concerned about doctors being moved around health districts.