A draft contract was yesterday endorsed by Ross Cartmill, who has been negotiating on behalf of the state’s 850 visiting medical officers – senior doctors who divide their time between the public and private sectors. But bodies representing thousands of full-time public hospital specialists say the “unprecedented” contracts will undermine the Queensland health system. The Queensland branch president of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation, Nick Buckmaster, said the proposed contracts were “Work Choices by stealth”. “They remove basic rights such as unfair dismissal and dispute resolution through the industrial commission,” he said. “We have no information about how doctors’ work hours or entitlements … will change. Such colossal uncertainty is bad for the health system and bad for patients.” Dr Cartmill said he believed most visiting medical officers would see benefit in the contracts. Under them, he said, VMOs would individually negotiate a fixed amount for after hours and on-call work, eliminating paperwork. “A lot of VMOs don’t fill in the paperwork so they don’t get paid for their night work,” Dr Cartmill said. “Under the contracts, they’ll negotiate a dollar value for their input and just get on with it.” He said the contracts also offered more flexibility for VMOs, who were not attached to an award, to take professional development leave. “This process shows some respect industrially.
Neonatal specialist named ACT Australian of the Year
A medical specialist who works with babies born prematurely has been named as the ACT Australian of the Year for 2014. Associate Professor Zsuzsoka Kecskes, 48, pioneered the development of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit CAM (NICUCAM) project which allows families to watch their babies using an internet based system when they are unable to be at hospital. The project helps build family bonds and gives premature babies in Canberra a better start in life. “What drives me to do what I do is the future…They are babies and they are the most vulnerable,” Dr Kecskes said. “We need to look after them and look after the families that care for them in the future and they will grow up to be the Australians that shape this nation.” Dr Kecskes’ research into babies who have suffered a loss of oxygen during birth continues to guide the treatment of newborns around the world. The Clinical Director of Neonatology also helped design and develop the recently built neonatal intensive care unit at Canberra’s new Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. Supporting servicemen and women Veterans’ campaigner Graham Walker has been awarded the ACT Senior Australian of the Year 2014 title for his work supporting returned servicemen and women. Mr Walker served for 21 years in the Army including the Indonesian Confrontation and the Vietnam War. During the 1980s, Mr Walker worked with the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia, to help thousands of veterans to receive their entitlements. He also advised governments, authored research and campaigned for the official history of the chemical Agent Orange to be rewritten. Now aged 74, Mr Walker hopes his support will ensure that the Vietnam veterans’ story is faithfully captured for future generations.