Big announcements will have little pay off for doctors

The NSW Government has announced a range of health spending measures in the past week, including subsidies for medical students, and improved tax savings for HSU members. Whilst ASMOF commends the investment in some health employees, comprehensive award reform will be needed to keep doctors in NSW. 

Study bonus

In an attempt to stop the exodus of health staff from the NSW public sector, the NSW Government has announced ‘study subsidies’ for medical and other students that are willing to stay in the public sector for 5 years. New medical students will be able to apply for $4000 annually, whilst existing students can apply for a one-off $8000 payment. At this stage the eligibility criteria for the subsidies is unclear, but only a minority of medical students in NSW will be eligible (up to 400 subsidies). 

With doctors in training in NSW now the lowest paid in Australia, a one-off payment for a few does little to address the inequity of having doctors in the state with the highest cost of living on the lowest pay. It is also ill suited to doctors who move during training to ensure that they can train in their chosen field. 

Health Minster Ryan Park acknowledged that “This is just one of the suite of measures we are undertaking in building a supported workforce’, but that is unlikely to ease the concerns of a burn out workforce who are looking for sweeping changes if they are to stay in NSW long-term.  

Salary packaging deal

Earlier in the week the Government also announced it was “making good” on election commitments to deliver better salary packaging arrangements for more than 50,000 healthcare workers across NSW. These changes will see HSU award workers’ share of tax savings increase to 70 per cent.    

Our firm view is that this arrangement should apply to all NSW Health staff, including doctors. We anticipate that extending the salary packaging savings to our members will be listed in our log of claims for Award Reform.  

Keep doctors in NSW

As we begin negotiations with NSW Health to reform our Awards, we will be working with you to further develop our log of claims. This where we want you to think about what would help attract and retain doctors in the NSW public sector- from salary, to safe working hours, minimum staffing levels, professional development opportunities, and the ways in which management need to consult with clinicians when making decisions.  

We will use our log of claims as the basis for the bargaining process with NSW Health.

SAVE THE DATE! We will be holding an online information session on our campaign for Award Reform on Monday 25 September.