AMA Transcript - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, ABC Gold Coast, Queensland Hospital contracts

4 Mar 2014

Transcript: AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, ABC Gold Coast, 4 March 2014

Subject: Queensland Hospital contracts

NICOLE DYER:      And it does appear that the contracts for senior doctors have caused division - not only between doctors and government but also within the LNP. The Assistant Health Minister, Dr Chris Davis, has backed down on comments that contracts could lead to patient harm and that his position was untenable.

Dr Davis has been in talks, closed-door talks with his boss, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg. Dr Davis' concerns are out there, and the AMA says their argument that these contracts are unfair has been strengthened. President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Steve Hambleton joining us now, and Dr Hambleton I believe you've just got off the phone with Mr Springborg. Good morning.

STEVE HAMBLETON:      Good morning.

NICOLE DYER:      What'd he say?

STEVE HAMBLETON:      Well, look, I think that the first thing I could say is that my role in this is to promote the view that the doctors want to make sure we stabilise what's happening in Queensland. We want to make sure that every dollar that's spent in Queensland is actually spent efficiently, and in fact I have no concerns at all that that's the Minister's view as well.

And in fact the Minister wrote to me a couple of weeks ago offering the opportunity for a meeting, and I've today taken up that opportunity, and I hope to speak to the Minister one-to-one soon to actually make sure that we can actually start with what we agree on, and look to a way forward that can actually re-stabilise the situation and re-engage people who are very much feeling disengaged right now.

NICOLE DYER:      Dr Hambleton I'm getting a sense that you're feeling very buoyed by your conversation with Mr Springborg. How was his conversation with Dr Davis?

STEVE HAMBLETON:      Well, I can't comment on that, I guess, I wasn't there.

NICOLE DYER:      Did he not give you an idea of the outcome? I mean, Dr Davis was very forthcoming in his opinions this morning that he, you know, he's taking a step back and his approach is a little bit more measured.

STEVE HAMBLETON:      I guess we can look forward to any statement coming from Dr Davis about his position, but we're very grateful to him for putting his views forward, and certainly making those views very clear. Now, I've been spoken to by doctors all up and down the coast of Queensland who've read these contracts and have expressed enormous concern.

And that's why I wrote to the Premier and the Minister a couple of weeks ago, and they did respond with an offer, and I guess that with that phone call this morning I've been able to take up the offer, and I certainly will. And I look forward to discussions starting with common ground, and then obviously exploring the issues that have been put by the doctors in Queensland to see if we can get some traction, see if we can get some way forward.

I understand the Minister's comment that he's not prepared to reopen negotiations, but the offer of a meeting is welcome and I'll take it.

NICOLE DYER:      Is that a direct reaction to the comments made by the assistant Health Minister?

STEVE HAMBLETON:      Well, I couldn't comment on that, that being a question for the Minister. But from my point of view, the Federal AMA is very happy to support my members in Queensland, and if there's something I can do to resolve the issues, I'll take every opportunity.

NICOLE DYER:      Dr Hambleton, is Dr Davis keeping his position as the Assistant Health Minister? Surely, that would have come up.

STEVE HAMBLETON:      Well, again, I wasn't able to discuss those issues with the Minister. But Dr Davis is a very senior doctor, he's fully aware of the issues having being a director of the department in one of the major hospitals in Queensland. He was also State President of the AMA not that long ago, and I guess we look back to the Forster inquiry days, then we had the Morris and the Davies inquiries.

There were many issues that reminded us that a good relationship between the management and the medical staff is critical for positive outcomes. Recently when we talked about our.

NICOLE DYER:      And when's that meeting Dr Hambleton?

STEVE HAMBLETON:      As I say, the offer's been made and accepted. We are yet to set a time and a date, but I'm hoping it will be the near future.

NICOLE DYER:      Thank you for your time. Dr Steve Hambleton, National President of the AMA.


4 March 2014


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