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Orthopaedic Surgeons back QLD Assistant Minister for Health on Command and Control ContractsTue, 04 Mar 2014

The Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons (ASOS) has supported comments by Assistant Queensland Health Minister Dr Chris Davis that, “command and control doctor contracts are not governance best practice and furthermore threaten medical professionalism.” [Courier Mail, 4/3/2014]

“There was a general consensus, the way proposed contracts are worded is not compatible or conducive to achieving high standards of patient care in the QLD public hospital system,” Dr Kelly Macgroarty, QLD Chairman of ASOS said in Brisbane today.

At a meeting organised by ASOS on Monday night (3/3/2014) at the Urban Hotel in Brisbane, orthopaedic surgeons discussed the contracts now being imposed by QLD Health on senior medical officers and visiting medical officers in the public hospital system.

Concerns raised by orthopaedic surgeons include an absence anywhere in the contract to acknowledge that doctors cannot be held responsible for shortcomings (system failures) in a hospital system over which they have no effective control. Governments have promised free health care and no amount of control or management over doctors will rectify the difficulties in meeting that objective.

“Contracts that can be varied unilaterally by bureaucrats with a glaring absence of fair and balanced dispute resolution procedures will be an ongoing cause of resentment,” Dr Macgroarty said.

Dr Macgroarty said, “there needs to be a realisation that doctors do not have the standard employment relationship that exists in other industries. A doctor’s first duty of care, ethically and legally, is to his/her patients, public or private, not his/her employers’ business objectives. Contracts should support the doctor/patient relationship, not attempt to bypass it. Doctors work best in a supportive professional environment that respects their skills and abilities.”

The Australian Society or Orthopaedic Surgeons is calling on the Minister to extend the 30 April ‘deadline’ for signing contracts and to listen to the reasonable concerns of the profession. If the government is unwilling to change the proposed contractual terms and conditions, it should allow doctors a choice to stay on their current arrangements indefinitely without penalty. In that way, the government will be offering real choice to its medical workforce, not forced choice,” Dr Macgroarty said.

Further information
Dr Kelly Macgroarty, ASOS QLD Chairman - 1300 562 247
Mr Stephen Milgate, National Coordinator, ASOS - 0425 283 411

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