Management at the new hospital says it negotiated new contracts with surgeons “in good faith” and claims doctors will have to reduce on-call commitments are “unfounded”.
The statement form the Southern NSW Local Health District was in response to a Bega District News article on orthopaedic surgeons at the South East Regional Hospital and their new, reduced contracts (BDN, 11/10).
Surgeons including Matthew Nott and Krishnankutty Rajesh have signed new contracts despite a pay cut of 30 per cent due to the removal of a Rural Doctors Settlement Package incentive.
A spokesperson from the SNSWLHD said the doctors were informed late last year that their RDSP contracts “were no longer relevant” because of the growth in services offered by the Bega Valley Health Service.
“The doctors’ contracts were due to expire in June this year and, in a gesture of good faith, the Local Health District agreed to extend the contracts for a further three months to September,” the spoesperson said.
“The doctors who signed the contracts were offered and will receive compensation payment for the transitional arrangements.
“Claims by some of the doctors that now they will have to reduce their on-call commitments at SERH are unfounded, and such action will only serve to reduce the doctors’ incomes.”
The LHD said all but one doctor currently employed at SERH have standard fee-for-service contracts and not RDSP contracts.
“Like some other hospitals in NSW originally listed under the RDSP, Bega has grown in capacity and staff and no longer meets the criteria for an RDSP facility,” the spokesperson said.
“NSW health facilities covered by the RDSP are small and remote with less than 50 beds and have no 24-hour on-site medical cover.
“With more than 110 beds now open, SERH is not a small nor remote facility and there has been 24-hour on-site medical cover at Bega for many years.”
The RDSP was agreed between NSW Health and the Rural Doctors Association (RDA) in 1987.
The package was designed to encourage doctors in country areas to maintain services in small, remote communities through higher remuneration for public hospital work.