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QLD doctors split over contracts in public health system

QUEENSLAND'S top doctors are split over a state plan to introduce contracts for the public health system; with a key union warning regional areas could suffer as the government labels the accusations "hysterical".

The public system's senior and visiting medical officers - among the most highly-paid in the state - are to be put on contracts with pay and entitlements to be directly negotiated with the hospital or health service that employs them.

The new contracts are being ushered in by Queensland Health following revelations unearthed by the Auditor-General last year.

The report found a government scheme allowing these medical officers to treat private patients in the public system cost $800 million instead of being "cost neutral".

The Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation Queensland is blasting the reforms, its 500 members voting this week to reject the plan.

ASMOFQ state president Dr Nick Buckmaster said performance targets set in those contracts could lead to doctors focusing on goals rather than patient care.

The Australian Medical Association Queensland is cautiously supporting the changes.

President Dr Christian Rowan aid contracts "drive productivity, efficiency and value for money".

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the "hysteria" of the ASMOFQ was that of a minority, and that most doctors would embrace the new system.

He said many Queensland doctors outside the public system were already on contracts as were those in other states.

The Minister said performance targets were used by most major private hospitals, which often had a very high level of patient care.

Mr Springborg said he was confident most of these senior doctors will support the new reform.



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