The working conditions of junior doctors will be a focus of health spending in the upcoming ACT budget following a class action law suit for underpayment of current and former doctors.
The ACT government is set to spend $8.6 million over three years to improve the working environment of junior medical officers, including longer contracts to provide job security for graduating doctors, additional learning positions, increased pastoral care and improved training and development coordination.
Junior doctors launched a class action in the Federal Court against Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital in late 2022, with doctors stating they were concerned about the safety of patients in the care of overworked and exhausted medical staff.
Legal representatives have said the junior doctors were working up to 25 per cent more than their rostered hours.
Sixteen health authorities across the ACT, NSW and Victoria are facing class action suits.
The 2023-24 budget will provide $122 million in staffing and resources to operate the new critical services building, which is set to open in mid-2024.
The new building will include a brand new emergency department, more operating rooms, more treatment spaces and more intensive care beds.
The upcoming budget will also allocate $9.9 million over four years to increase hospital cleaners' pay and to establish a project team to develop options for insourcing services across Canberra Health Services.
The government says the upcoming budget will grow the public health system with more than 80 additional doctors, nurses, allied health and support workers.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said healthcare workers were the heart and soul of the system.
"We are committed to their wellbeing and we know that a better supported workforce can deliver even better health services for Canberrans," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
"We are investing in supports across the workforce, based on feedback from the workers themselves - including our junior doctors.
"This means investing in more doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and health care students, while improving the wages and conditions of the cleaners who keep Canberra Hospital running."
The 2023-24 ACT budget will also include:
- $2.2 million over four years for health workforce planning
- $1.25 million over three years for the Indigenous Allied Health Australia Health Academy program
- $3.5 million over four years to replace and upgrade nurse-call systems and duress alarms
- $3 million over three years for study support payments for health professional students undertaking an eligible degree through an ACT university
The ACT government is currently negotiating the next phase of mandated minimum nurse and midwife to patient ratios.
We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on The Canberra Times website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. See our moderation policy here.