‘Pineapple’ meeting resolutions passed

20.03.2014

The following resolutions were unanimously passed by the 1850 doctors at the ‘Pineapple’ meeting on Wednesday 19 March. 

Resolution 1

Senior Doctors call upon the Government to immediately halt the rollout of unfair individual contracts to allow negotiations to occur with Senior Doctor representatives to resolve this dispute.

Resolution 2

Senior Doctors acknowledge the Government’s offer made in response to their concerns regarding the draconian contracts. However, the proposal in entirely inadequate in addressing our concerns and is rejected.

Resolution 3

Senior Doctors call upon the Government to implement legislative changes to allow Senior Doctors to be able to negotiate fair terms and conditions of employment now and into the future .

Resolution 4

Senior Doctors consider the Government’s attempts to coerce them to sign unfair individual contracts by cutting their remuneration to be highly offensive. Senior Doctors call upon the Government to guarantee that no Senior Doctor will be worse off for refusing to sign its unfair individual contract, either now, or following 1 July 2014.

Resolution 5

Senior Doctors empower the SMO Taskforce, ASMOF, Together, AMA, AMAQ and SMO Representatives to continue to negotiate with Government to achieve a model which guarantees Senior Doctors the ability to collectively negotiate fair terms and conditions of employment [and ensure that Queenslanders continue to have one of the best public hospital systems in the world.]

Resolution 6

All Senior Doctors who have tendered their resignation must be permitted to withdraw their resignations upon agreement for a model for determining fair terms and conditions of employment being reached between Senior Doctors representatives and Government.

Media Release: Doctors reject government contracts

20.03.2014

More than 1850 doctors uninimously rejected the State Government’s contracts offer at a mass meeting in Brisbane last night, saying the contracts would put the Queensland public health system at risk.

Following a day of rallies across Brisbane, 1500 doctors attended the meeting at the Brisbane Convention Centre and more than 350 tuned in online to discuss the Government’s attempts to push doctors onto unfair individual contracts.

Keep Our Doctors campaign spokesperson and President of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation, Dr Tony Sara said the clear rejection of the offer should act as a wake up call to the Health Minister.

“This is the clearest sign yet that Queensland doctors won’t sign up to a contract that strips away vital conditions for them and their patients,” Dr Sara said.

“It’s time for the Health Minister to stop playing games and start seriously addressing the issue.

“Doctors from right across the state have made their concerns very clear. The Minister needs to immediately halt the roll-out of these unfair individual contracts and sit down with doctors representatives to work out a fair and reasonable solution.

“The Queensland public health system is too important to play politics with.”

Doctors have also begun a mass resignation process – signing resignation letters and handing them to their repsective unions to be processed down the track unless the State Government provides a fair offer.

“Doctors don’t want to leave the system, but the State Government has left us with no choice but to start going down this path,” Dr Sara said.

“Doctors can’t sign up a contract that doesn’t have the best interests of patients at its core.

“This is a decision that no doctor is taking lightly, but unfortunately unless the Government comes back to the table with offer that puts patient safety ahead of the needs of bureaucrats, we don’t have any other option.”

A number of resolutions were unanimously passed at the meeting of doctors last night including a call on the Goevrnemnt to implement legilsative changes to allow doctors to be able to negotiate fair terms and conditions of employment and for the Government to guarantee no doctor will be worse off for not signing the unfair contracts.

 

‘Pineapple’ meeting important information

19.03.2014

An important Pineapple meeting will be held tonight, Wednesday 19 March, at a new venue:

WHERE: Plaza Terrace room, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Brisbane

TIME: 7pm

WebEx facilities are available for those unable to attend in person

Webxx link is: http://webcast.gigtv.com.au/Mediasite/Play/6a02300a32da4b0e8d8d46b8e20f039a1d

You have to register with your name and email to get access.

Below are the viewing requirements for a live webcast

https://support.sonicfoundry.com/Training/ViewingRequirements

 

Nothing here is impossible Mr Springborg

17.03.2014
The following email was sent to the Queensland Premier and Health Minister from an unknown Senior Medical Officer.
Subject: Nothing here is impossible Mr Springborg

Dear Minister Springborg and Premier Newman,

We have been told that your legislative changes are irreversible, and the train carrying these individual contracts has already pulled out of the station,
and cannot be stopped.

We sincerely hope that your talks with the SMO representatives around the concerning issues in the contracts result in a successful outcome for all.

If SMOs are not convinced that our ability to continue to practice public health medicine with safety is secured, then the state will be in grave danger of losing its’ brightest and best.

Please listen:    We say to you that nothing in your legislation, and the individual contracts, is irreversible. This train wreck can most certainly be stopped.

You are dealing with a group of people who understand what is truly irreversible and impossible, as they have stood in the face of death and tried to stare death down,
bargained against time with their knowledge, skills, equipment and courage, and sometimes failed, and often times not.

When you have to tell parents that their child has autism and intellectual impairment and that their lives will forever be filled with difficulty and challenge, and watch their grief unfold – that is irreversible.

When you watch a child bleed to death before your eyes as you pump blood in their arm only to see it pour out of the gaping hole in their skull, where it has been sheared off from a motor vehicle accident –
that is irreversible.

When you tell parents that their baby has cerebral palsy and will never walk or talk, or even eat independently, because their brain is malformed or damaged beyond repair   –  that is irreversible.

Nothing here with your individual contract legislation is impossible to change – we’ll tell you what is impossible.

When parents beg you to save a child’s life after a second failed bone marrow transplant for leukaemia, as you’re watching them die from an infection they have no white blood cells left to fight  –  that is impossible.

When you’re trying to bring back a heart beat in a child who has been pulled from the bottom of a pool, an hour after its heart beat stopped  –  that is impossible.

Don’t you dare sit there and tell us that this legislation is irreversible and that stopping this contract roll out is impossible.
Because we know that all it takes is a show of hands in a parliamentary room, and the swipe of a pen across a piece of paper.

No fancy machines, no million dollar drugs, no transplanted tissues, no 12 hour operations, and no miracles of fate.

Just understanding and good will from your colleagues and yourselves. And if you’re up all night to achieve that, then welcome to our lives.

We have each others’ backs, us medicos  –  we always have and always will.

Because we have all stood there with the sick and the dying, and we know how lonely that journey is without colleagues at our shoulders, and support and resources at our backs.

So we will stand together, even if we have to walk away, together  – until you listen, and pull on the brakes, and stop this train wreck from playing out to its end.

Please enter the discussions with good will, and open minds and hearts, and leave your egos on the coat rack outside.

The health of the state is in your hands – please don’t throw it away.

Sincerely,
Senior Medical Officers of Queensland Health.

PS To all of our colleagues – please don’t walk away or sign just yet – stand at our shoulders because we’ve got your backs.

Hundreds join Keep Our Doctors rally on the Gold Coast

12.03.2014

More than 300 doctors and supporters rallied outside the Gold Coast Hospital yesterday, calling on the State Government to act to keep our doctors in the public health system.

Gold Coast doctors are refusing to sign the State Government’s unfair individual contracts, saying they put patient safety at risk and strip away the rights of doctors.

A number of resolutions were unanimously passed by the crowd including:

Motion to Gold Coast MP’s

“We call on our local MPs Mr Rob Molhoek, Miss Verity Barton, Mr John Paul Langbroek, Ms Ros Bates, Mr Michael Hart, Ms Jan Stuckey, Mr Ray Stevens, Mr Michael Crandon and Dr Alexander Douglas to stand up for our local community and ask the Queensland Premier Mr Campbell Newman and the Health Minister Mr Lawrence Springborg to sit down and renegotiate.

Restore our rights and stand up for our Doctors.”

Motion to Premier Mr Campbell Newman and Health Minister Mr Lawrence Springborg

“We call on the Health Minister to sit down and review the unfair contracts and re-issue a fair deal. One which restores rights to SMOs. A deal that demonstrates the good faith in SMOs that the community have in them.”

Emergency doctors won’t sign

12.03.2014

Emergency doctors from across the state held a crisis meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the impact of the State Government’s contracts and to look at the potential ramifications of large numbers of doctors being forced out of the system.

Keep Our Doctors spokesperson Dr David Spain said there is great concern among the state’s emergency doctors about the impact the State Government’s proposed contracts would have on patient care in emergency departments.

“We know that significant numbers of doctors will be forced to leave the public system if the State Government pushes ahead with its unfair individual contracts,” Dr David Spain said.

“All areas of the public health system will be impacted, but emergency departments will really take a battering. Without other specialists we will be unable to admit our patients for ongoing care.”

“Any Queenslander who has been to an emergency department on a weekend night knows just how busy they get and how important it is to have senior doctors on hand at all times.

“We really can’t afford to be losing emergency doctors from the system, but unfortunately it’s looking like a very real possibility at the moment.

Dr Christa Bell, also a Keep Our Doctors spokesperson, said that as well as the effects of losing emergency doctors, emergency departments will have the additional burden of patients affected by the breakdown of the public hospital system.

“Patients will be unable to access their usual specialists. In emergency we will be expected to find a way around this for desperate patients and their relatives. Our options will be limited,” Dr Bell said.

“The contracts would hit all doctors hard. Key issues around shift work and fatigue provisions are critical to patient safety.”

Dr Spain said the Government’s proposed contracts strip away unfair dismissal protections, meaning that doctors who speak out against their employer for the benefit of their patients could be dismissed at any time for any reason.

“Emergency doctors make life and death decisions everyday – there’s no time for second guessing. We need to be able to stand up for our patients without having to worry about whether it will cost us our jobs.

“We don’t want to leave, but emergency doctors simply cannot sign a contract that puts patient care at risk and robs them of basic workplace conditions.”

Resolutions passed

A number of resolutions were passed at the meeting including:

Resolution 1

Senior Medical Officers from Emergency Departments in Queensland inform you they remain opposed to the current unfair individual contracts

Resolution 2

Senior Medical officers from Emergency Departments in Queensland ask that the government listen and enter into meaningful negotiations with our representative organizations and SMO representatives to make needed changes of legislation and contract  terms to urgently resolve matters

MEDIA RELEASE: Hundreds of doctors call on Minister to re-open negotiations

06.03.2014

A mass meeting of more than 800 doctors from across the state last night unanimously called on the State Governemnt to re-open negotiations over the contracts with workers’ representatives.

The doctors moved a resolution calling on the Government to meet with groups including the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation, Together and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) in a bid to resolve the current issue of doctors contracts.

ASMOF Federal President Dr Tony Sara said the packed room of senior doctors at Brisbane’s Pineapple Hotel also unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the Health Minister and commited to not signing the State Government’s proposed individual contracts.

“The passion among doctors throughout the state is palpable. They want this issue resolved as swiftly as possible for the benefit of the people of Queensland,” Dr Sara said.

“The Health Minister is forcing the state’s public health system into a state of crisis. Already the impact of the Government’s attempts to force doctors to sign onto these unfair individual contracts are being felt around the state, particuarly in regional areas.

“The contracts strip away vital rights like doctors’ ability to speak up for patients without fear of losing their job. Doctor’s are commited to the state’s public health system – they simply cannot sign up to contract knowing the detrimental impact they will have on quality care in the state.

“There were well over 800 doctors in the room at the Pineapple Hotel last night – that’s a significant percentage senior doctors in the state

“Doctors from places like Cairns, Mt Isa, Townsville and the Gold Coast make the effort to travel to meet with Brisbane-based doctors to discuss the serious impact of the State Government’s plans. This is not something any doctor is taking lightly.

“We don’t want to get to the point where doctors are forced to resign from their positions in the public health system, but if the State Government continues down this path that outcome is looking quite likely.

“Doctors are committed to the public health system and to getting a quick resolution to the issue. We’re hopeful the State Government will change its mind and meet with the relevant representatives of the profession for the benefit of the people of Queensland.

“We want to sit down and negotiate in good faith with the State Government a fair and reasonable outcome that protects the rights and conditions of doctors and patients.”

 

Keep our Doctors, to Keep our Teachers

06.03.2014

All of us have teachers throughout lives, who act as guides through the various hurdles of life. In the medical profession it is our seniors who act as these guides. To help us not only avoid hazards, but also to get our bearings. And while without them we may endure, it’s at what cost.

Government myths debunked

04.03.2014

The Queensland Government has released a statement outlining why it believes doctors should sign the unfair individual contracts. 

Below is what the Government said, via a statement from Assistant Minister Chris Davis, – and then the real facts.

Government claim: The contracts are perpetual and not time limited

This statement is not true.

  • The contracts allow for arbitrary dismissal and no right to an unfair dismissal remedy. The Hospital Board (who are responsible to the Minister) can terminate employees without providing any reason. This allows doctors to be terminated for advocating for the best outcomes for patients and is a reduction in job security. This clause can also be used to intimidate and bully doctors in relation to any other industrial or clinical issue by holding termination over their heads.
  • This means that non-medical managers have the power to interfere with clinical decisions and will compromise patient safety.
  • The D-G of Health (responsible to the Minister or Assistant Minister) can unilaterally vary the contract or any part of it at any time without agreement or consultation providing no certainty of terms for any SMO.

Government claim: The contracts allow doctors to receive six months’ salary, instead of the current three months if they are terminated

  • According to Chief Human Resource Officer, the increase in notice period was included to attempt to compensate doctors for loss of unfair dismissal remedy, however the primary remedy for unfair dismissal is reinstatement to employment and is no longer available to senior doctors who have been unlawfully or unfairly terminated
  • The D-G of Health (acting on the direction of the Minister or Assistant Minister) can unilaterally reduce this at any time.
  • The proposed contract framework also imposes a 6 month notice period on a doctor resigning employment making it very difficult to obtain other employment arrangements. This is particularly abhorrent as the D-G can literally change the working conditions of doctors.  This means that the Minister or Assistant Minister can have the D-G of Health change the employment conditions of some or all doctors and force doctors to work under reduced conditions for 6 months.

Government claim: The contracts ensure doctors can no longer be transferred anywhere in the State without consultation, as is presently the case.

  • As Assistant Minister Chris Davis well knows from his time as a senior clinical and medical administrator at the Prince Charles Hospital, this is not currently the case.
  • Doctors are expected to be able to work in a district and some travel may be required and compensation paid for this. Any change that affects an employee requires consultation.
  • Organisation change that requires transfer of employees to other locations is considered to be significant change requiring significant consultation (although the Government has removed some requirements for consultation through legislation).
  • Other transfers for operational reasons must not proceed if the doctor establishes reasonable grounds to refuse the transfer. The refusal must not be used to prejudice the officer’s prospects for future promotion or advancement. Unreasonable distance is a well-established valid ground for refusal across all government employment sectors.
  • Under the proposed contract the HHS can tell a doctor that they will accept a transfer or be terminated. Further, the contracts would allow the capacity for doctors to be forced in to working shifts and potentially transferred to their non-usual work location with no extra compensation or consultation.

Government claim: The contracts provide unlimited damages for unfair dismissal through the Supreme Court instead of the current maximum six months’ salary through the QIRC

  • This is untrue and particularly dangerous misrepresentation of the law by the Health Minister.
  • There is no available cause of action under the common law for wrongful termination where there is a defined notice period in the contract (such as the contract the Government has proposed).
  • The only available cause of action is for breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence which precludes damages for termination, or events leading to the termination. There is no common law remedy which provides for reinstatement.  There is no “unlimited damages for unfair dismissal in the Supreme Court” – this is a lie perpetrated the Government.
  • The Government has passed legislation removing the capacity for senior doctors to access the tribunal system which resolves these concerns and disputes swiftly, efficiently and as a no cost jurisdiction. Any claims that are made about breach of the contract or any other industrial issue must now be made (and defended by the State) in the Supreme Court at considerable additional cost to doctors and to the taxpayer. This is money better spent on patients.

Government claim: The contracts allow senior doctors to directly engage and negotiate with their actual employer – the local Hospital and Health Services [and Board], instead of a centralised Brisbane bureaucracy under the failed current system

This is also untrue.

  • The contract proposed is a standard form contract that has been developed by the centralised bureaucracy of the Chief HR Officer and her office in Charlotte Street and imposed on doctors and HHS CEOs and Boards by the D-G of Health acting under the instruction of the Minister for Health.
  • The Health Employment Directive prohibits the HHS departing from the framework document and only remuneration, hours, duties and PPA (to a limited degree) are in fact negotiable.
  • The D-G and the centralised bureaucracy can override anything agreed at the HHS level at any time; however the employer and the employee cannot vary the contract terms without D-G approval.
  • These contracts put more power in the hands of the bureaucrats responsible for the health bungles and crises of the recent past and less in the hands of experienced clinicians.

Government claim: Importantly, any variation in the terms of the perpetual contracts are subject to clinician involvement through an advisory committee including the AMAQ President of the day.

  • There is no contractual, legislative or other authority providing for this advisory council to exist or for any changes to be subject to it.
  • The AMA, AMAQ, ASMOF, ASMOFQ and Together as well as many other professional bodies and associations representing doctors in Queensland and internationally have expressed serious concerns about the patient safety impacts of these contracts and asked the D-G to reconsider. The D-G (under the instruction of the Minister and Assistant Minister) have refused to do so. Why would Queensland doctors expect differently from the D-G in the future?
  • Every single clinician has had the right to involvement in the development of their conditions of employment and the impacts on their patients through their industrial representatives and by voting on their collective agreement. Under the new model imposed by your government conditions of employment are set unilaterally by the D-G of health acting on the instructions of the Minister.
  • Clinicians oppose the contract you are imposing.

Government claim: The Minister has been able to satisfy all of his commitment to ensuring fair remuneration for our doctors and patient safety are not only addressed, but vastly improved under the new model.

  • The  Minister has failed to satisfy the doctors of Queensland who continue to decry these contracts as unfair, unreasonable and bad for patients.