Comments made by Minister for Health Geoff Wilson have led to Dr Tim Porter quitting Queensland Health.
Comments made by Minister for Health Geoff Wilson have led to Dr Tim Porter quitting Queensland Health.

Top surgeon quits Qld Health

TOOWOOMBA surgeon Dr Tim Porter has quit Queensland Health over comments made by the Minister for Health about the wages of Visiting Medical Officers in public hospitals.

Chair of the AMA Queensland VMO Committee Dr Ross Cartmill said more resignations were likely to result from a three-and-a-half-year wage battle with Queensland Health.

"I've done all I can to stop my colleagues from resigning, but we have reached the end of the line," he said.

Dr Porter, a general surgeon from St Andrew's Private Hospital, will leave the public health system in February.

As a VMO, he currently divides his time between the private and public systems.

In a recent interview, Minister for Health Geoff Wilson repeatedly told reporters VMOs were paid about $130,000 a year for a part-time job of about 15 hours a week.

"The money isn't the issue; the contempt that he showed for us was the thing that irritated me," Dr Porter said.

Dr Porter, who employs six staff, said when wages, insurance and rent were taken into account, his costs were "only just" covered.

Dr Cartmill said the AMA had been stonewalled by Queensland Health, despite the fact that VMOs had not had a pay rise since June 2008.

He said the dispute was not about an industry-wide pay rise, but about addressing doctor shortages in regional areas.

"We're happy to take a 2.5% pay rise - that's not the issue," he said.

"But remuneration is the same in provincial cities as it is in Brisbane.

"How can you expect to attract people to places like Cairns, Toowoomba, Mt Isa and Rockhampton with that sort of attitude?"

Dr Cartmill said a "domino effect" was likely to result from Dr Porter's resignation.

"It's a big deal for his specific colleagues... at Toowoomba Hospital," he said.

"When one drops out, the others have to pick up the slack."

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