The Guardian 11 May, 2005
Call for action
over doctors' huge payments
The Health Services Union (HSU) has called on the Victorian government to stop regional hospitals paying local doctors $1000 a day to be on call to treat patients. Portland Hospital has confirmed that it will pay local doctors the massive payment to be on call, setting what the union says is a shocking precedent for similar-sized and smaller hospitals across the State.
It is believed that Portland's payment is the largest of its kind in Victoria, with other similar sized hospitals offering a visiting medical officer (VMO) payment of $100 dollars or less a day.
Jeff Jackson, Victorian Secretary of the HSU last week called on the Bracks government to immediately intervene and scrap the outrageous payment before other country hospitals chose to follow.
"Regional hospitals just can't afford payments of such obscene amounts", warned Mr Jackson. "It will undoubtedly be regional communities who bare the brunt of this stupid decision."
"It is not good enough for the Bracks government to just hand over cash and leave hospitals to line doctors' pockets with cash instead of improving patient care. Who is running Victoria's hospitals? Greedy doctors or the Bracks government?"
Mr Jackson said that hard working hospital staff would have their jobs and hours cut because of the payment, leaving regional communities with rich doctors but closed hospitals.
"Staff numbers will inevitably be slashed as management scrambles to meet this ludicrous $1000 payment and when you cut jobs, you cut corners with patient care, it's as simple as that."
The union called on the government to show leadership and step in and scrapped the payment. "The Bracks Government can grandstand all they like about health funding but until they take charge of our hospitals, Victorians can't be sure that tax payer money is being spent on patient care rather than lining greedy doctors pockets", Mr Jackson said.