ASMOFQ Update March-April 2022

13 Apr 2022

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Read the latest update from ASMOFQ (Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation Queensland) our industrial relations partner who we collaborate with to represent doctors in the public hospital system.

March 2022 has been a huge month for ASMOFQ (The Doctors' Union) and our members. We spent numerous days in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC), with multiple hearings and conferences over the last few weeks. We  have also met with Queensland Health several times to negotiate MOCA 6.

Stand-by allowance for rural SMOs: QIRC matter B2020/84: 

We recognise the hard work and dedication of Queensland rural and remote doctors, and have been standing up for our members’ rights.  

From 7-9 March, we litigated matter B2020/84 in a formal hearing, seeking the appropriate payment of the standby allowance to doctors working at rural hospitals in West Moreton Hospital and Health Service (HHS). 

Opening arguments were presented on the first day, followed by witnesses from both sides giving evidence and being cross-examined over the second and third days. ASMOFQ will provide a written submission in the coming weeks, after which a decision will be handed down.

ED25 allowance QIRC Full Bench hearing

On 28-30 March, the ED25 matter (D/2019/114) was heard in the QIRC in front of a Full Bench. ASMOFQ is seeking all eligible SMOs who satisfy the Clause 11.24.3 in MOCA 5 are appropriately paid the ED25 allowance. However, Queensland Health are attempting to make the eligibility criteria more restrictive by adding extra conditions to the payment of this allowance.

This has been a long process, substantially delayed for several reasons.  Queensland Health lodged an appeal at the end of 2019 (which was out-of-time), followed by the COVID pandemic in 2020, and then when the hearing was set for September 2021, counsel representing Queensland Health became seriously ill and was unable to attend.

Witnesses gave evidence over the first two days, and on the third and final day, counsel for both Queensland Health and ASMOFQ made their oral submissions (closing arguments). Our barrister, Ms Doust, argued our case very strongly. At the end of the hearing, the Full Bench reserved their decision (as expected), and it may take several weeks or even months to have the decision handed down.

ASMOFQ has spent significant resources and funds in legal expenses on this matter, and this highlights the importance of having an industrial organisation that is able to take on such complex matters.

The amount of work and advocacy that ASMOFQ has done in the QIRC this past month is a reminder of how important having access to the QIRC is to ASMOFQ as an organisation, and our members. In 2014-15, the Newman Government removed our access to the QIRC when forcing us on to the unfair contracts, but we were able to have this restored in following MOCA 4..

We have also been in the QIRC representing interns at Townsville Hospital in relation to remuneration, and attended two conferences on behalf of an individual member.

MOCA 6 meetings

ASMOFQ representatives have had several meetings with Queensland Health as part of the MOCA 6 negotiations.

We submitted our initial log of claims and tabled this at the meeting on Monday 21 March.

At the next meeting on Monday 4 April, we were provided some guidance from the Office of Industrial Relations with respect to which clauses may or may not be allowed in a certified agreement (not just ours, but all other Queensland Health employees). We also discussed medical officer workloads, and the widespread fatigue and burnout of doctors experienced across the state, which existed before 2020, but has certainly worsened during the COVID pandemic.

Issues at Mount Isa Hospital

ASMOFQ was in the QIRC again on Friday 8 April, advocating for Mount Isa Hospital doctors. ASMOFQ Secretary, Dr Dilum Ekanayake, clearly and effectively articulated the issues to the Commission, along with our ASMOFQ industrial staff.

These issues included the safety of doctors working in the emergency department particularly after hours, doctors’ vehicles being damaged and broken into in the staff carpark, problems with the provided accommodation (e.g. air conditioning not working) and the additional new form and onerous processes that the hospital was planning to introduce for claiming overtime and recall.

After the three-hour session, it was agreed the planned overtime/recall form and processes would be withdrawn for the time being, and representatives from North West HHS will urgently need come back to the Commission with a response on the other matters.

We plan to visit Mount Isa Hospital in the coming weeks, and the Commissioner expressed a keen interest to join us.

Published: 13 Apr 2022