Hundreds of doctors are expected to join the hour-long walkout next Thursday to attend a mass meeting to discuss their concerns on wages, as talks with the state government has yielded no results. The doctors are also concerned that many are leaving to work interstate for higher rates.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said that it would hold a stop work meeting on Thursday to discuss stalled enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations with the Victorian Government. AMA president Mark Yates said that the Victorian doctors are among the lowest paid in the country, and the shortage of specialists is expected to worsen. The doctors want a 5 per cent annual pay rise but the Government is offering half of that.
Dr Mark Yates, the president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Victoria said there would be some disruptions to elective surgery and outpatient care between 12.30pm and 1.30pm (AEST). But, he said that there wouldn't be any interference with patient care. He also said that hospitals will be manned and that there would be no compromise in case of an emergency.
He explained that the disruption would actually be a small inconvenience when compared with the long-term benefits of a better public hospital system. The AMA claims two doctors each week are leaving Victoria to work interstate. Dr Yates while stating that the other states have got a very active process of attracting new doctors, he said that the doctors in NSW are paid 50 per cent more than they are in Victoria and in Queensland doctors are paid 56 per cent more.
Dr Yates explained that they are not talking about a pay comparison, they were talking about a pay chasm, and that he says would eventually suck the public hospital system dry of doctors. Ridiculing that the government to doctors' concerns had been an "insult", he said that they have not met any of the conditions or concerns that the doctors have got in relation to a better system of care and greater support for doctors in the public hospital system.
A spokesman for Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike announced in response that the doctors were jumping the gun by announcing the walkout even before the meeting that has been scheduled for the Industrial Relations Commission on Tuesday. He said that the government was disappointed and surprised at the kind of action the AMA was taking. He also was in disagreement that the doctors in Victoria were paid less than their interstate colleagues, and that it was wrong on the AMA's path to even suggest that Victoria was losing doctors to other states. He claimed that numbers of doctors were coming to Victoria from interstate and that their numbers were actually increasing.