Newman prepared to recruit overseas and interstate doctors

DOCTOR contract negotiations have reached a standstill with the Queensland Government offering a take it or leave it stance.

Premier Campbell Newman, responding during Question Time in parliament on Thursday, said he was prepared to recruit interstate or overseas doctors to replace any Queensland doctors resigning over the contract dispute.

"Do not doubt the government's resolve," he said.

"It is up to doctors now; if they wish to sign, we want them on board.

"If they want to resign, we will find replacements.

"It is about money and remuneration, it is about pay and conditions, it is about collective bargaining and not about patients.

"What I say to Queenslanders is that these individuals are not lowly paid workers on a factory floor being paid $50,000 a year.

"They are being paid $400,000 or $500,000 a year. They are highly trained, highly respected, well remunerated and being taken care of."

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said he came from a background where a handshake meant something and he believed the contract dispute had been resolved.

He said the government had amended contracts to address eight issues raised two weeks ago and he believed that was the end of it.

But more than 1000 doctors voted on Wednesday night to reject the changes the government was prepared to make to the individual contracts on offer.

"What else is there to give?" Mr Springborg asked.

"There is no other option to address this."

Australia Medical Association president Steve Hambleton told radio station 4BC the health minister and Director-General had worked hard in recent weeks but trust had been lost over the past six months.

He said there were 3500 doctors in Queensland that would need to accept the offer.

"Everybody can see those terms were unfair but there's been some movement," he said.

"A lot of those things that were unfair were attempted to be addressed.

"We should not rule out a successful outcome because that's what the doctors want, that's what the government wants and that's the best thing for the people of Queensland."

Mr Springborg said the government was forced to respond to an Auditor-General's report which detailed how a scheme to enable doctors to practice privately in public hospitals had cost Queensland Health $804.24 million in the past nine years.

The figure is derived from the $752.47 million difference between the payments to senior medical officers and Queensland Health's share of earned revenues and the $51.77 million in unrecovered administrative support costs.

"We cannot have a circumstance where public patients are being pushed aside in preference to private patients in public hospitals," Mr Springborg told parliament.

"The government cannot shun its role to effect the necessary change."

Doctors must sign the contracts by April 30 or risk losing up to 30% of their pay.

The contracts will take effect in July.



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