Douglas GPs to be impacted by proposed mass resignations /Newsport (copy 1)

Douglas GPs to be impacted by proposed mass resignations

Friday March 21 2014

Threats of mass resignations are set to rock rural and remote health services with revelations Cape York doctors are prepared to quit over proposed individual work contracts. 

The state government's latest offer was unanimously rejected by senior doctors at a meeting in Brisbane on Thursday. 

Premier Campbell Newman has said he will hire doctors from interstate and overseas if Queensland doctors don't agree to their terms.

But Together Union representative Dr Sandy Donald said the new contracts would give Health Minister Lawrence Springborg 'unfettered power over doctors'.

Dr Donald said several doctors working in remote parts of Cape York were prepared to resign.

But he said he wouldn't reveal the total number or where they work for fear of reprisal. 

"A large number of [remotely-based] senior doctors have indicated their intent to present a resignation, given the [Health] Minister's stance," Dr Donald said. 

"They are actually at much higher risk than the doctors working in Cairns because in remote areas you're not only much more exposed to bad management but also hostile government.

"There are quite a few who have indicated they will not sign and will not continue to work if this regime is implemented. 

"Given our complete lack of trust of the state government we won't be divulging any more information than that." 

General practitioners in Port Douglas and Mossman will also be adversely affected, Dr Donald said.

"Private GPs aren't directly impacted," he said, "however, their working life is dramatically affected if there are no working doctors at hospitals, in communities or specialist services available in Cairns."  

Dr Donald, a Cairns-based anaesthetist, said remote doctors he'd spoken to were 'devastated' that progress made in many remote Indigenous communities may not be followed through with if they do resign. 

"The state government appears to have no interest in closing the gap," he said. 

The Australian Medical Association said the proposed contracts gave the government too much power to vary work hours and pay and that senior medical officers could be too easily dismissed. 

Union officials said 95 per cent of far north Queensland doctors were prepared to tender their resignations if the state government was unwilling to give up further ground.