Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4192 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
that we have the medical specialists in place at the time we need them to be in place- when an emergency occurs and their services are required. Special loadings will also apply where the on-call commitments are more frequent or require the VMO to attend for long periods after hours-another significant bonus when it comes to ensuring we have the specialities we need in our public hospitals. Minimum payments, and the loadings on payments, made to VMOs who are required to attend patients after hours have also been set at nationally competitive levels.
There are a number of other important elements in the new contracts, which I would like to outline to members. The first is that appropriate recognition is being given to safe hours within which VMOs work. The new contracts provide for full payment for sessions cancelled by VMOs due to fatigue following a demanding night on call in our public hospitals. This is, in addition, a key safety assurance measure, which will protect the quality of health care in our public hospitals.
VMOs will also be paid for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Again, this highlights both the government's commitment to making sure that we have the specialists we need to deliver services to the public hospitals and our commitment to making the new Canberra medical school happen. VMOs will also be paid for their activities in relation to quality in our public hospitals. Quality is about better practice and fewer adverse incidents in our public hospitals, and we are recognising the importance of quality for the first time in these new contracts.
Finally, contracts of up to seven years will be offered. This is a significant improvement on the three-year offer made by previous governments. VMOs will select between three to seven years and the conditions that come with those. The steps from here are for the ACT department of health to work with the individual VMOs in finalising the details of their specific contracts.
What is invaluable is that we now have the agreement of the two key medical organisations-the AMA and the VMOA-on the nature and form of that contract. They have put that to their members, and their members have endorsed this contract-and there are no disruptions to public health services, there is no antagonism and arbitrary fighting between the government and VMOs, and there is a commitment from this government to ensure that we have medical specialists in our public hospitals doing the work that is so dearly needed to make our system work.
The system is one that has worked-because of the government's endorsement of a collective bargaining approach-one that has allowed us to engage with representatives and one that has achieved agreement across the ACT government and the two organisations involved.
Canberra Hospital-angiogram waiting list
MRS CROSS: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister responsible for health, Mr Corbell. Minister, the imaging section of the Canberra Hospital is a vital part of the overall care provided, as we all know. Recently, I have had complaints from constituents who are in need of angiograms to enable correct diagnosis of possible coronary heart disease. These constituents have found that the wait for their angiogram is well over the