The Health News – 26 February 2014

Overview

  • In QLD, over 300 health workers and supporters gathered outside Cairns hospital in protest of the state government’s plans to put senior doctors on individual work contracts.
  • Also in QLD, Townsville MP Ewen Jones has spoken out about the planned federal rollout of a nutritional rating and labelling system for food.
  • In Western Australia, the state opposition have said they’ve found further evidence that the state government misled the public about the progress of Fiona Stanley Hospital leading up to the election in March.

Health News on HPR.

Cairns health staff protest against doctor contracts – by Kirsty Nancarrow
In QLD, over 300 health workers and supporters gathered outside Cairns hospital in protest of the state government’s plans to put senior doctors on individual work contracts. At the rally a speaker said up to 180 of Far North Queensland’s 200 doctors will refuse to sign the contracts.

Dr Peter Boyd, who has worked in the public health system for more than 20 years, is one of those refusing the contracts. He said “There is a sword over anyone’s head who stands out and opposes the policy of the day. People can be dismissed without reason. These are the same contracts that our senior executives are on that run businesses, where profitability is the only motive and heads roll where profits fall off.” Spokesperson for the Together Union Dr Sandy Donald said sneaky wording in the contracts allow doctors to be dismissed without cause. Motions to reject the contracts were passed at the rally, and union members are appealing to the state government to begin negotiations. Many present at the rally want their local members of parliament to put their stance on the matter in writing. Similar rallies have been planned at other regional centres across QLD.

‘Fat’ MP Ewen Jones dismisses food star rating system amid government website removal controversy – Latika Bourke
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-26/ewen-jones-says-food-star-ratings-wont-work/5283940

Also in QLD, Townsville MP Ewen Jones has spoken out about the planned federal rollout of a nutritional rating and labelling system for food, stating that as a ‘fat’ man he knows it will not work.
He said “The government doesn’t make me fat, I do. I don’t need (them) to tell me that what I’m eating is wrong.” Mr Jones went on that the government have no firm policy on the issue, and said “The Government’s policy is to maximise the health dollar throughout the whole health portfolio. There is no actual policy. You won’t find a written policy on whether we do this health food rating or not.” Mr Jones continued that he believed education was the real solution to our obesity epidemic, and said “I think it’s through education and education in school, through healthy examples in schools, but not down to tuckshops.”

Opposition claimed report warned of possible delays with new hospital – by Stephanie Dalzell
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-25/report-warned-of-possible-delays-with-new-hospital/5283758

In Western Australia, the state opposition have said they’ve found further evidence that the state government misled the public about the progress of Fiona Stanley Hospital leading up to the election in March. A health department report from 2012 highlighted several risk factors for a timeframe blowout for the hospital’s construction, such as operations planning and recruiting key staff. The hospital was due to open in April this year but will not be fully functioning until some time in 2015.
Opposition leader Mark McGowan says the report proves the government knew of the possibility of delays in the hospital’s construction but deliberately led the public to think otherwise. He said  “There is now a smoking gun that the Government knew there were major problems with commissioning the hospital that cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars of additional funds, yet it appears the Government did nothing. The Barnett Government has failed to deliver Fiona Stanley Hospital on time and on budget despite its promise…and worse still it kept the truth from the public when it knew the hospital’s commissioning was very likely to be delayed.”

In parliament health minister Kim Hames rejected the allegations on the basis that he had not seen the report prior to the election, and restated the fact that the director of health at the time of the report’s release, Dr Kim Snowball, assured the government that any delays are manageable.