The Health News – 8 March 2014

Overview

  • In QLD, state Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and doctors began to address issues arising from the proposed individual work contracts.
  • In VIC, Bendigo Health have reported significant progress in the construction of the city’s new hospital. The $630m project began last year.
  • In NSW, the state parliament has discussed the prospect of rebuilding Muswellbrook’s hospital after the submission of a 10,000 signature petition.

Health News on HPR.

Doctors ‘optimistic’ about talks with Health Minister Lawrence Springborg over individual work contracts – by Brad Ryan
In QLD, state Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and doctors began to address issues arising from the proposed individual work contracts at a meeting on Thursday night. An increasing number of senior medical staff have threatened their resignation if the new contracts are implemented. President of the AMA Dr Steve Hambleton noted there are several key concerns with the contracts, and said “Our meeting tonight wasn’t to actually do a deal on those. But to reiterate that we need a process to deliver an outcome. What we got tonight was an assurance from the Minister.” President-elect of the AMA QLD branch Dr Shaun Rudd said the meeting began to address these issues. He said “There’s no result as yet – we have to admit that. However, the process is underway and hopefully that will maybe calm a few people down.” Dr John Fraser also attended the meeting and said he is “optimistic but not confident” that further talks will lead to an understanding on the contracts. He said “It’s not completely scrap and start all over, but there are substantial concerns that we face. The Minister and his team listened sensibly to it. A number of those – we reached a degree of consensus that we can move forward on this.”
The health minister maintained the contracts will not be rewritten but he has agreed to talk over the points of contention. He said “We’ve now actually agreed on a pathway to address what are basically six issues. If we can move through good policy, procedures, implementation and safeguards, I think we can address a lot of those things. We’re hoping to be able to work through those fairly intensively and to be able to conclude them fairly quickly. The important thing, of course, is that the basis of the contracts stay intact.” Discussions between the health department and doctors will resume Monday.

New hospital to take shape ‘quickly’ – no author listed
In VIC, Bendigo Health have reported significant progress in the construction of the city’s new hospital. The $630m project began last year and work thus far has mostly involved excavation of the block, but on Thursday the concrete slab for the first floor of the hospital was poured. The hospital won’t be completed until 2016 but CEO John Mulder thinks progress will speed up from here, and said “What happens is, they put this slab down, I’m no builder of course but I expect the columns will then come up and then the next floor and then columns and then the next and up will go the frame very quickly. I think the Bendigo community are going to be surprised when they see just what a huge civic building this is going to be on the Bendigo landscape. The largest building in Bendigo we’ve seen go up in recent years has been the Bendigo Bank building and this building’s about nine times the size of that building. Those figures don’t mean much in print but when you see the size of it on the landscape I’m sure people will realise what a fantastic contribution to our community our Government has supported us with.”

Muswellbrook Hospital discussed in Parliament – no author
In NSW, the state parliament has discussed the prospect of rebuilding Muswellbrook’s hospital after the submission of a 10,000 signature petition. Staff at the hospital have voiced their concerns for several years over the declining condition of the 60-year-old hospital. The building contains a large quantity of asbestos which makes even routine maintenance difficult. A local community group has lobbied state MPs and Hunter New England Health to take action, as no investment had been made in improvements in over 16 years. Health Minister Jillian Skinner said “I give a commitment to people of Muswellbrook that their hospital will not be forgotten.” However the community group behind the petition acknowledges that their main demand for a new hospital is improbable.