Bega hospital contract offer has a catch: Phoon

Bega-based orthopaedic surgeon Chris Phoon

Bega-based orthopaedic surgeon Chris Phoon

An unofficial proposal after a week of community outrage contains a hidden catch, a Bega orthopaedic surgeon says. 

Chris Phoon performed his last operation at the South East Regional Hospital on Tuesday after management chose not to renew his contract.

After public outcry and Member for Bega Andrew Constance calling for an external review of the decision not to renew the contract, the Southern NSW Local Health District released a statement on Wednesday night suggesting it had adjusted its position. 

“South East Regional Hospital will be seeking agreement from Dr Christopher Phoon to continue to care for patients over the next three months,” the statement read.

“During that time a review will be undertaken in consultation with Dr Phoon and the Australian College of Surgeons to review all aspects of practice.” 

In the ongoing commentary around this issue on social media, Mr Constance said NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard was involved in the decision-making late Wednesday.

“I would hope the decision of the health district to offer an extension of contract for Dr Phoon for three months will enable the external review to be completed while enabling him to continue to work,” Mr Constance wrote.

While Mr Constance said the health district would meet with Dr Phoon on Monday, the surgeon claimed members of the hospital’s management said in an informal discussion with him Wednesday night they would not negotiate an extension.

And on Thursday afternoon he said he had not been officially offered a new contract.

“I’m very happy to be offered a contract extension,” he said. 

“It was proposed the LHD would only consider a limited contract for a limited duration with limited terms which would be tantamount to justifying management’s previous actions not to renew my contract,” Dr Phoon said of the informal meeting.  

“I have an excellent documented performance record and have made it publicly available.”

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