CQ doctors told to pack their bags by end of year
THE Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service told doctors living in taxpayer-funded accommodation to move out by the end of the year.
The CQHHS recently informed rural generalists that their accommodation was approved by the Department of Health director general Dr John Wakefield only until December 31 this year.
In Parliament on Thursday, Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar tabled a letter, which he had been emailed anonymously, from CQHHS medical services executive director Dr Julieanne Graham to a doctor in Emerald.
The letter was dated July 10 and read: "As a Senior Medical Officer working in Emerald, you will not have an entitlement to accommodation after 31st December 2020, and will be asked to vacate the property … at this date."
Mr Millar said that subsidised accommodation was an incentive for doctors to work rurally, and that it was inappropriate at the moment to reduce the number of health workers in those areas.
"I feel that there's been a massive hit to the budget and they're going to try and cut back, and the cutbacks are going to be in the bush," he said.
"We've got to provide as much incentive to keep doctors there for a long period of time.
"Right now is not the time to cut back on frontline services in rural and regional areas.
"Why is the Government risking health services for regional Queenslanders by kicking clinicians out of the homes over Christmas?"
CQHHS chief executive Steve Williamson said a review into CQ Health's accommodation allowance showed rural generalist doctors were receiving more than their award entitlements, which was "inconsistent with arrangements elsewhere in the state".
"While incentives are important to attract medical officers to rural areas, we need to ensure
taxpayer funds are used properly and transparently," he said.
He said CQ Health was looking into how to support doctors affected by the decision.
The letter tabled by Mr Millar said doctors would not have to repay over-entitlements they might have received.
During the Thursday Parliament sitting, Health Minister Steven Miles responded to Mr Millar, saying "the LNP has no record to be proud of when it comes to medical services, whether that is in the city or in the regions".
"They cut back medical services right across this state," he said. "They sacked nurses. They sacked pathology workers. They sacked support staff.
"They consistently cut health services to Queenslanders."
Minister Miles said he would arrange a "a face-to-face briefing" for Mr Millar.