CENTRAL Queensland Hospital and Health Service yesterday confirmed months of speculation plans were afoot to privatise medical imaging services.
But CQHHS chief executive Len Richards said their decision to put feelers out for private providers was "not about saving money".
While he could not promise all 40 staff from medical imaging would keep their jobs, he said they would give preference to private providers willing to employ current staff.
"Those not offered a position with the new provider may be redeployed within our health service," Mr Richards said.
But Together Union Rockhampton delegate Ashleigh Saunders, who has met with Mr Richards, questioned how many staff would keep their jobs.
She said she was of the understanding it would be just the handful of specialist radiographers who could be retained that would stay on the private provider's pay roll.
Ms Saunders said she had been told there would be no redundancies for other staff. She questioned Mr Richards' statement a private service could provide improved services, including 24-hour on-site coverage at Rockhampton and Gladstone hospitals.
"The firms offering their services in our initial discussions say they will provide extra services including Computed Tomography (CT) at Gladstone and Emerald hospitals, ultrasound at Emerald Hospital, better interventional radiology services at Rockhampton Hospital, 24-hour on-site coverage in Rockhampton and increased on-site coverage at Gladstone Hospital.
"These additional services would provide our doctors and nurses with better imaging to enable more accurate diagnoses, which of course means a better service for our patients," he said.
"I must stress that when we say private provider, that does not mean there will be a cost to our public patients," Mr Richards said.
"The service will be paid for by CQHHS, and there will not be any expense to our public patients."
He said when it came to making the decision on which provider to choose it was not only about better services at a reasonable cost; it was also about the future of 40 dedicated staff who already work in CQHHS medical imaging services.
"When we evaluate the submissions from private providers we will give preference to those willing to employ our current staff.
"Those not offered a position with the new provider may be redeployed within our health service.
"I understand a change like this will be stressful for staff and we commit to working closely with them and providing adequate support to make the transition as easy as possible."
Some potential improvements from successful contract negotiations (above existing services) include:
- 24-hour on-site general/CT radiographer service in Rockhampton Hospital and increased services at Gladstone Hospital
- 24-hour coverage (through on-call) at Emerald and Biloela
- Expanded on-site coverage for ultrasound and MRI in Rockhampton
- New CT service on-site for Gladstone and Emerald
- Ultrasound service for Emerald and a roving rural ultrasound for Biloela, Moura, Mt Morgan and Blackwater
- Radiology registrar position in addition to onsite radiologist at Rockhampton
- On-site radiology in Gladstone for a minimum of 15 hours per week
- Improvement in interventional radiology services including nuclear medicine at Rockhampton
- Capacity at PET/CT for cancer care services; capacity for cardiac catheter laboratory in Rockhampton
- Improved training for radiographers and sonographers