Senior doctors have called for calm as both the government and the state's specialists retreat to consider their next move in the doctor employment contracts saga.
More than 1000 doctors voted on Wednesday night to reject the contracts the government had offered and the addendum it had worked on to address their concerns as “entirely inadequate”.
How Health Director-General Ian Maynard said he was treated at the meeting became another bone of contention for the government and gave Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and Premier Campbell Newman an opportunity to shrug off the glove, attack “union thugs” and question the commitment of some doctors to find a solution.
Public hospital senior medical officers are set to be placed on individual contracts.
Mr Springborg said Mr Maynard, who had been invited to address attendees at the latest "pineapple group" meeting was stopped at the door by an “interstate union thug” and only allowed entry when a doctor intervened.
Speaking in parliament, Mr Springborg said Mr Maynard was allowed five minutes to address the crowd and then presented with a pineapple by organisers.
“If they were designed to get a solution you would see longer than five minutes presented to the director-general, you would not see the appalling indignity of being presented with a pineapple and told to leave the stage whilst everything else was constructed around high emotion.”
Heath Minister Lawrence Springborg Photo: Glenn Hunt
Mr Maynard, while not addressing the minister's comments said he was stopped from entering the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre by a “union official from Sydney...and a lawyer supporting that union” and told he was “not welcome here. There will be threats against you personally. You could be at risk. It is not helpful to the process. You should turn around and leave”. And after following Mr Maynard up an escalator, the union official put a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to turn him around.
He said a “concerned doctor” intervened and alerted meeting convener John Fraser, an intensive care specialist, who told him he had “five minutes to speak”.
“There were two things I was frustrated about – one, there were attempts made to discourage me and block me from attending, including physical contact,” Mr Maynard said.
“Secondly, I was given five minutes to convey solutions to a very complex set of issues, which is impossible to do, having been invited there to present the government's position.”
Professor Fraser said the time limit imposed at the meeting was “for the doctors”.
“Mr Maynard was welcomed to put his case forward and we thank him for that, but he has been holding meetings with doctors at hospitals up and down the state,” Professor Fraser said.
“He has been making his case there. Wednesday's meeting was for the doctors to have their say. We were on a pretty tight schedule, so that's why he was limited.”
Professor Fraser said he did present Mr Maynard with a pineapple, but it was done in jest and received “with a big smile on both our faces”.
But Mr Springborg said it was an “appalling indignity”.
Mr Maynard said while he felt he was “insulted by the treatment in general” he spoke to Professor Fraser on Thursday to clear the air.
“[I told him] I wasn't disrespected by the doctors there, that I didn't feel disrespected by him, even though I was the brunt of jokes at my expense,” he said.
“I am a big guy, words don't generally offend me and it was an event that he had organised, but [I said] that I was not comfortable with the behaviour of union officials at that event.”
Doctors who spoke to Fairfax Media said they were surprised by the political reaction to Wednesday's meeting and considered Mr Maynard "courageous" for accepting the invitation to speak.
But they are standing by the resolutions they passed at the meeting.
The April 30 signing deadline still stands.