Junior doctors tipped for ACT budget windfall

2 minute read

It’s taken a class action in Federal Court, but doctors-in-training in Canberra hospitals may finally be making some progress on gaining better conditions.

The ACT’s budget doesn’t officially drop until 27 June but health measures are already leaking and junior doctors could be the big winners if the speculation is true.

Junior doctors from the Calvary Public and the Canberra Hospital launched a class action late last year against their employers for underpayment of unrostered overtime over the past six years, and includes more than 1500 doctors, including medical interns, resident medical officers and registrars.

Legal representatives of the group said the junior doctors were working up to 25% more than their rostered hours.

Now the ACT government is tipped to commit $8.6m over three years to improve working conditions, including “longer contracts to provide job security for graduating doctors, additional learning positions, increased pastoral care and improved training and development coordination”, according to media reports.

Also mooted as a budget health measure is $122m in staffing and resources for the new $600m critical services building – an expansion of the Canberra Hospital – which is set to open in mid-2024.

The new building will include a doubling of emergency department treatment spaces from 72 to 147, operating rooms, and a doubling of intensive care beds, from 30 to 60.

The ACT budget will also include $9.9m over four years to increase the pay of hospital cleaners and to establish options for insourcing services across Canberra Health Services.

Other health measures tipped for the 27 June budget include:

  • $2.2m over four years for health workforce planning;
  • $1.25m over three years for the Indigenous Allied Health Australia Health Academy program;
  • $3.5m over four years to replace and upgrade nurse-call systems and duress alarms; and,
  • $3m over three years for study support payments for health professional students undertaking an eligible degree through an ACT university.

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