CAC elections


The new contracts for the state’s SMOs and VMOs took effect, for those who signed them, at the beginning of this month.

In the end, Queensland doctors won the battle for fairer contracts. The State Government attempted to force us onto contracts that would have completely stripped away our rights and the rights of our patients. But thanks to your commitment to the public health system, we’ve ended up with contracts considerably better than those originally put on the table.

But we know that the current contracts are not perfect and that there will be a continued push from the Government to claw back some of harmful elements we fought hard to have excluded.

We can’t let that happen, which is why the upcoming Contracts Advisory Committee, or ‘CAC’ elections are so crucial.

Elections for the new Contracts Advisory Committee are due to be held over the coming weeks, with ballot papers to be mailed to eligible voters from Monday 8 September. Doctors voted onto this committee will play an important role in the implementation and ongoing review of the contracts

It’s critical that the doctors elected to this committee represent the best interests of the state’s doctors. Without a strong team willing to stand up for the rights of doctors and patients, we are at serious risk of ending up back where we started.

The CAC will be made up of one VMO representative, a metropolitan SMO representative, a regional SMO representative and a rural/remote SMO representative.

The Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation and the Together Union are endorsing the following candidates who have nominated to represent you on the Contracts Advisory Committee.

Senior medical officer representative – metropolitan

Senior medical officer representative

Dr Suzanne Royle

Dr Suzanne Royle is currently employed half time at The Prince Charles Hospital as a Senior Staff Specialist Paediatrician. She is also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland, mother to two young daughters and the Vice-President of ASMOFQ.

Dr Royle has previously worked as a VMO Paediatrician at the Gold Coast Hospital, and has held academic roles at Griffith University and Imperial College London.  Her paediatric training was undertaken at the Mater Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.

Dr Suzanne Royle was a key member of the Keep Our Doctors taskforce and was heavily involved in the contract negotiations with the Queensland Government from the outset.

Senior medical officer representative – regional

Senior medical officer representative – regional

Dr Sandy Donald

Dr Sandy Donald has worked as a specialist anaesthetist at Cairns Hospital since 1995. He is an Executive member of Together Queensland.

Sandy has been advocating for doctors for most of his time in Cairns, including a term as President of the Cairns Senior Medical Staff Association. He represented doctors during each of the three MOCA negotiations and was a key member of the Keep Our Doctors taskforce.

Dr Donald continues to publicly advocate for regional health services generally, with a particular focus on doctors’ rights.

Senior medical officer – rural/remote

Senior medical officer

Dr Derek Holroyd

Dr Derek Holroyd is a Rural Generalist based at Proserpine Hospital. He was a QH Rural Bonded Scholar who remained rural after his return of service, which has resulted in a role as Director of Rural Generalist Training with QRGP. Derek is also an examiner for the RANZCOG diploma for GP obstetricians.

Dr Holroyd has been a member of ASMOFQ and RDAQ since 2005, and previously advocated for salaried doctors during the MOCA1 as deputy chair for the Doctors In Training group. He was a RDAQ management committee member for 2006-7.

Visiting medical officer representative

Visiting medical officer representative

Associate Professor Mark Ross, MBBS FRACS, Orthopaedic Surgeon

Dr Mark Ross is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in the School of Medicine at The University of Queensland; Director of the Upper Limb Fellowship Programme at the Princess Alexandra Hospital; and a co-director of the Brisbane Hand and Upper Limb Research Institute. He is also the current President of the Queensland Shoulder Surgery Society.

Dr Ross was a key member of the Keep Our Doctors taskforce, representing VMOs in the recent contract negotiations with the QLD Government. He was instrumental in securing fair employment conditions for VMOs in the current contracts.

Please take these endorsements into account when voting for your CAC representative. Queensland doctors deserve to have the best possible team representing us in these important discussions.

CAC – important information


Voting on the members of the Contract Advisory Committee or ‘CAC’ will begin on September 8, 2014. 

The CAC is designed provide expert advice and recommendations to the Director-General with regard to matters relating to the implementation and strategic review of contracts for SMOs and VMOs.

For a complete overview of the CAC’s role and details of those eligible to sit on the committee click here.

MEDIA RELEASE: Doctors cautiously accept contracts


The state’s doctors have very cautiously voted to accept the Government’s improved contracts and have vowed to continue fighting for the rights of Queensland patients.

Of the doctors who voted in the ballot from Together and ASMOF 53 per cent voted in favour of the contracts; 34 per cent voted against; and 13 per cent said they were unsure or abstained.

Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation President Dr Tony Sara said that while doctors have voted to accept the contracts in their current form, there is a very strong desire to continue the fight to improve the conditions in the public health system.

“We’ve come a very long way from the original contracts which completely stripped away the rights of doctors and patients. The contracts are now acceptable to the state’s doctors, but only barely,” Dr Sara said.

“This can’t be considered an overwhelming vote in favour of the Government’s contracts. Doctors fought very hard to get these significant improvements to the contracts that protect the needs of patients. This is the best possible contract we could get from a Government which is seemingly determined to put the needs of bureaucrats ahead of the needs of Queenslanders.

“The state’s doctors are committed to providing the best possible care to the people of Queensland. We won’t let this Government continue to attack the right of patients to have access to the best possible public health care system.

“One thing is very clear in all this – that the State Government has completely lost the trust of the its top doctors and the state’s patients. The onus now is on the Government to rebuild the trust and to work with its Health and Hospital Services to ensure the contracts doctors are provided with live up to their promises.”

There was also overhwleming support from doctors to be part of a campaign to ensure that the next generation of Queensland’s senior doctors are also guaranteed fair and just working conditions.

“Queensland must continue to attract the best and brightest junior doctors if it is to sustain a first class public health care system.” Dr Sara said.

Dr Sara today also expressed his marked disappointment at the overnight sacking of Assistant Health Minister Dr Chris Davis.

“Dr Davis knew the contracts his Government were trying to force through would strip away the rights of patients and doctors, so he did what was right and spoke out against them,” Dr Sara said.

“It’s very disappointing that the Premier has dismissed Dr Davis for standing up for the needs of the Queenslanders.”


DOCTORS – It’s time to have your say on the Government’s contracts


Doctors who are members of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation will have received a ballot email asking you to indicate, among other things, whether you are willing to sign the contracts in their latest form.

If you haven’t received the ballot email, check your email junk folder. 

It’s critical that everyone fill in this survey. We need to know where you stand so that we can determine what the next steps in the campaign should be.

These are your contracts. It’s up to you to decide whether it meets your specific needs.

Many of you have not yet received the latest version of the contracts. There are examples of the contracts located here on the Government’s website. The contracts on the website are the latest versions – use them as a guide.

As you know, the Taskforce has been negotiating with the Government for quite some time on behalf of the state’s doctors. We said at the last Pineapple meeting that while not perfect, the current contracts are the best we can possibly get in the current political environment. The contracts have come a very long way since the first incarnation that Government put on the table.

That said, below are a few key facts that you should take into consideration before casting your vote.

  • The contracts do leave open the possibility of doctors coming into the system in the future being put on a lesser contract. Whatever the outcome of this ballot, your unions will continue to fight for the rights of new doctors coming into the system.
  • Prior to the last Pineapple meeting the Health Minister and Director General had indicated that a number of changes to the VMO contracts were to be made – changes that the Taskforce had told him were key. Those changes were:
    •  allowing SMOs who work one day a week, and have a separate private practice, to be offered a VMO contract;
    • clarifying the overtime and on-call arrangements to ensure that when VMOs are on-call at any time of the day or night, they are appropriately remunerated .
    • ensuring the VMO’s continued right to conduct off-campus private practice. The clause as it stands limits this protection to on-call outside the hours of 7am-6pm Monday to Friday.

Despite written communication from the Taskforce indicating this is the case, the Minister has either not made these changes or failed to ensure the commitments are honoured at a local level by Health and Hospital Services.

The ballot will close at midnight on Monday 12 May 2014 after which time we will collate the results and report back to all members on the outcome.

Once again, thank you for your dedication throughout this process. This has been a difficult time for doctors right across the state, however the patients of Queensland will be better off because of your efforts.

Regardless of the result of this ballot, we will continue to fight to ensure Queenslanders have access to the best possible public health system now and into the future.

Statement from Dr Tony Sara, President, Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation (ASMOF):


attempt to escalate the current dispute between the Queensland Government and the state’s doctors and divert attention away from the real issue.

I make no apologies for doing everything possible to protect the interests of my members – the doctors of Queensland – and the Queensland public.

I am not a NSW based union official; I am full-time doctor and medical manager in the NSW public health system. I’ve worked in the health system for the past 30 years and am dedicated to the profession.

I’m proud of the national role my colleagues and I are playing to assist Queenslanders in protecting the public health system and the rights of the state’s doctors.

The Queensland Government’s attempts to push doctors onto unfair individual contracts is putting the state’s public health system at very serious risk. No amount of bullying tactics will stop doctors from doing everything we can to protect it.

I call on the Queensland Health Minister to recognise that cheap hits in a tabloid newspaper is not a way to way to resolve the dispute – negotiation is the only way forward.



Gold Coast rally – 11 March


Tuesday 11 March at 12.30pm

The Gold Coast Keep Our Doctors’ rally is taking place at 12.30pm on Tuesday 11 March. Meet at the Southern end of the Gold Coast University Hospital, B Block, Hospital Boulevard – just near the ‘main entry’ sign.

Come along to show your opposition to the unfair individual contracts!

MEDIA RELEASE: Doctors reach in-principle agreement on contracts


15 April, 2014: Negotiations between doctors and the Government have resulted in an in-principle agreement on the current contracts issue that the state’s doctors will have the opportunity to vote on in the coming weeks.

The State Government returned to the negotiating table late last week, finally agreeing to amendments that will guarantee patient safety is not compromised in order to meet bureaucratic needs.

Keep Our Doctors spokesperson and President of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation Dr Tony Sara said the in-principle agreement does not mean that doctors are willing to sign the contracts just yet and warned that there are still key elements that the Government needs to address before the contracts will be put to doctors.

“The fact that the Government has come back to the negotiating table in order to reach a resolution that meets the needs of Queenslanders is very welcomed,” Dr Sara said.

“We are now in a position where we expect to have a contract that can put to the state’s doctors to vote on very shortly.

“Ultimately it’s up to the state’s doctors to decide whether they are confident the contracts put the needs of patients ahead of the needs of bureaucrats.

“Doctors have made it very clear throughout this process that we will never sign up to a contract that puts our patients at risk.

“The support doctors have received from the community throughout this process has been overwhelming.

Dr Sara said the in-principle agreement means that doctors will not be forced to resign from the public health system at this stage.

“There are still a small number of key matters that remain to be resolved. Our expectation is that these matters will be rectified prior to the mass meeting of doctors on Wednesday.”


It’s positive, but not over yet…


You may have seen an email from the Director-General this morning about the upcoming negotiations.

Unfortunately the email contained some misleading information.

As you will have read in the email sent by Keep Our Doctors last night, it is true that together doctors have finally forced the Government back to the negotiating table. This is a very positive sign and our negotiating team will be working hard over the coming days to achieve an outcome that puts your needs and the needs of your patients first.

Thanks to your dedication, and the dedication of your colleagues, we are in a good position.

But things aren’t as rosy as the Director-General would have you believe.

While things are moving in the right direction, there is still a long way to go in negotiations. The contracts still contain a number of areas of serious concern that mean that, as previously, they are unsafe.

For example – while the word ‘profitability’ has been removed, the contracts still allow for a doctor’s clinical autonomy to be limited by management.

And this is just one example. We are very hopeful that over the coming days these issues will be ironed out in discussions with the Government. But they haven’t been ironed out yet. The contracts as they stand are still unsatisfactory and cannot be recommended.

Nothing is not more important than a patient’s life and a patient’s right to the best possible treatment. We are very hopeful that we can negotiate a contract with the Government that recognises that.

Congratulations on getting the Government to this point. We are in a very good position.

The people of Queensland are counting on doctors to stay strong and work with the Government to deliver a contract that puts the needs of patients first. The public are backing you all the way.

Stay tuned – we’ll keep you updated on information as it comes to hand.

The Keep Our Doctors team

PS – A reminder that the Pineapple mass meeting has been postponed to allow for the negotiations with government to take place. The meeting will now take place next week, Wednesday 16 April.