Govt striking out with visiting medicos

A PAY offer for doctors who had been threatening strike action at Queensland's public hospitals arrived far too late to save goodwill, a leading Rockhampton surgeon said yesterday.

Dr Kim Bulwinkel was scathing in his criticism of the Queensland Government's new 7.8% (average) pay package for Visiting Medical Officers, saying it was better than the last offer but still would not attract private doctors into the public system.

"This has come 18 months too late,'' he said.

"Goodwill is virtually destroyed. It's too little too late.' ' Dr Bulwinkel, the Australian Medical Association Queensland local representative, said the Government had made the decision "on the run'' after Visiting Medical Officers throughout the state had threatened to start "a rolling course of industrial action'' at public hospitals on Monday.

He said the previous pay offers had been an "insult'' and doctors were "beyond frustration'' with the Government's attitude.

He said VMOs, who are private practice doctors, would still be out of pocket for every hour they worked in the public hospital system.

On Wednesday Premier Peter Beattie had said "the Government would not be blackmailed'' by the VMOs.

But yesterday Mr Beattie said VMOs played a crucial role in the public hospital system after the Government approved the offer.

"The public hospital system could not function without them.''

Dr Bulwinkel said none of Rockhampton's 19 VMOs would be taking strike action.

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