Important update for Medical Staff

Posted July 17, 2014

It’s been an interesting week with the "estimates" process in State Parliament giving some insight in to the Health budget. We remain concerned about future funding and are continuing our Stop the Cuts campaign.

The start date for SMO and VMO contracts is just weeks away.

We are still hearing reports of failures in communication about the contracts and added to this there has been a lack of clarity around the process to elect the body to monitor the contracts.

What we know:

The Director-General of the Department of Health has called for nominations to the Contract Advisory Committee (CAC) closing 25 July 2014. The Contract Advisory Committee was a concession made by the government to provide for improvements to be made to your contract conditions and to address implementation issues and other matters. Whether it is a successful consultative mechanism or a tool of the Department to further disadvantage you depends on your ability to elect strong representatives to this Committee.

CAC nominations

Nominations are open now! But the eligibility criteria are still not available…. We have written to the HR team and also sent a joint letter with ASMOF (the other doctors union) as part of the Keep our Doctors Taskforce to seek urgent clarification. As soon as we know we will publish the criteria. There are 4 positions to nominate for. The VMO category is clear – you must be a VMO. The other 3 are not so transparent and are for SMOs: Metropolitan, Regional and Rural/Remote. We don’t know if QHealth are using facilities as the basis for the definition or postcodes or another criteria. It is ridiculous that eligibility criteria were not issued with the notice of nominations, if criteria are not advised soon the nomination period may need to be extended.

To  make the most of this process however we want to know if you are interested. If you would like to nominate email health@together.org.au.

We are very keen to have members who have been involved in the contract process locally or on the joint taskforce to be involved.

It is essential that we have strong advocates for the medical workforce elected so let us know if you are thinking of nominating to the CAC so that we can coordinate our approach with ASMOF and campaign effectively for our representatives.

Look out for further correspondence from our Keep our Doctors Taskforce about the CAC process. We have posted it here.

Contract consolidation process – "Show and Tell"

We know that strong groups of members in various areas have had some successes in negotiating special conditions and other arrangements but that in other places negotiations have been more hostile and no such conditions have been won.  A key part of this phase of the contract process is to “show and tell” our contract clauses so we have a good idea of what has been agreed to in craft groups, and each HHS. You can send through your contract clauses to health@together.org.au or fax to 3170  6814 or send us an email with the special conditions or other benefits you were able to negotiate in your groups or individually. This will help us to keep track of what the standard should be. Thank you to the many members who have done so already. It will help with advice to new SMOs and to make sure that we can do the best job in negotiating for better clauses in to the future.

Doctors Award– Conditions for Junior Doctors

The Medical Officers Award (the large document containing basic employment conditions for Medical Officers not on contracts) is in the process of being “modernised” – that is stripped of conditions. This is part of the same legislation that introduced the individual contract arrangements for SMOs and VMOs and this process is happening across the public sector.

We have been working through a process in the Industrial Relations Commission to maintain as many conditions as possible.

The government have agreed to improve the safety net conditions in the Award to as set out below in return for certain concessions from Together. These improvement are:

  • reduction of working hours from 80 to 76 hrs per fortnight.
  • reduction of maximum length of shift from 16 to 12hrs
  • increase of minimum break to incur fatigue penalties from 8 to 10 hrs
  • insertion of both Junior House Officer and Senior House Officer to replace Resident Medical Officer at 12.4(a)(ii) of the draft (retaining progression from one to the other after a year)

These conditions are largely also retained in your collective agreement but this would lock them in as a safety net minimum into the Award.

In return, Health is seeking that junior doctors who are part time can only increment each year when they have also completed 1200 hrs. This would affect Part Time doctors at less than .6 FTE and is currently the practice for other employees other than doctors.

If you have concerns about this or have any questions please provide feedback urgently to health@together.org.au.