THE alleged sacking of not one but two locum surgeons in Gladstone was enough to get Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Services Dr Andrew Laming straight on a plane to protest in person.
“Within an hour of hearing the story last night, I made plans to come up,” he said.
Gladstone Hospital has been recruiting for a full-time surgeon since 2009 in response to the pleas of medical personnel for more reasonable rosters. The workload was shared between two locums and a Visiting Medical Officer (VMO).
When Queensland Health recruited a full-time, permanent doctor from Rockhampton, they did not renew the locums' contracts — a decision that caused the VMO to resign in “despair”, leaving one full-time surgeon for Gladstone.
It is believed all four doctors had expected their roster to become an “acceptable and sustainable” one-in-four, rather than the current one-in-two, with on-call duties every second night and weekend.
State Member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham said she was angry Queensland Health appeared to be going back on verbal undertakings they made both to herself and the doctors.
“I sent Tony (O'Connell, acting Director General of Queensland Health) a text saying ‘you must think I'm a fool',” she said.
Maree Geraghty, the CQ District CEO for Queensland Health said that no surgeon was sacked and no services had been cut at the Gladstone Hospital.
“Gladstone Hospital has recruited a full-time surgeon after more than two years of relying on temporary locum medical officers,” she said.
“A part-time surgeon will also provide support for our new full-time surgeon until January 2012, so Gladstone Hospital has the services of 1.5 FTE (full-time equivalent) surgeons, up from the previous 1.3 FTE,” she said.
FOUR DOCTORS, NO WAITING (Qld Health Data for the 2009/10 financial year)
Waiting time for general surgery in Gladstone: 7 days
Waiting time for general surgery across Queensland: 31 days
Percentage of patients waiting more than one year for surgery in Gladstone: 0.0%
Annual number of surgical procedures at Gladstone Hospital: 723
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