Monday, June 24, 2024

First, doctors won $230 million in back pay. Now, they’re getting pay rises worth thousands

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Dr Yvonne Nguyen, one of the union representatives negotiating the settlement, said women were even less likely to claim overtime and allowances, creating a huge deterrent for young doctors.


“When I was a student I saw residents and registrars arriving two hours early to work and staying back three to four hours every day. It made me never want to work at those hospitals, and unsurprisingly, those hospitals have ongoing staffing problems,” she said.

“Without accurately capturing how much workload there is, the hospitals do not have any impetus to recruit the right number of doctors to be able to safely staff our hospitals.”

Dr Tom Morrison, a neurosurgery registrar at St Vincent’s Hospital and another union representative, estimated he had been underpaid between $10,000 and $20,000.

He said the deal would ensure doctors were paid for the work they do and safeguard against junior medical staff working dangerously long hours.

“I’ve done 17-hour shifts – I’ve done 32 hours in a row once. It really limits your ability to be able to perform well, treat patients with the care they deserve, and you make mistakes,” he said.

“If doctors are rested, able to think with clarity about what they’re doing, they’re much more able to do that work well and with pride, and that can only result in better patient outcomes.”

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park, visiting Ryde Hospital on Tuesday, said resolving the underpayment issue had been a top priority for him.Credit: Nick Moir

The settlement is separate to the deal reached in the class action lodged by law firms Maurice Blackburn and Hayden Stephens & Associates in December 2020. The union was criticised in the Supreme Court for asking some junior doctors to opt out and join the union’s own legal action.

The 62 junior doctors named in the union’s action will receive equivalent back-pay to that which they would have received through the class action.

Health Minister Ryan Park said he had been deeply troubled by allegations that junior doctors were not paid their entitlements under the previous government.

“As a Labor minister, as a lifelong supporter of essential workers, resolving this has been a top priority of mine since taking office,” he said.

“I know that NSW Health has undertaken a number of measures to address this historical issue and there is more work to do. I never want to see this happen again.”

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