Sydney doctor earned $600k for working in the regions

HEALTH Minister Lawrence Springborg has slammed an administrative practice that allowed a Sydney-based doctor to be paid $600,000 per year to fly in and treat patients at Bundaberg Hospital for one or two days per week.

The doctor was paid an annual salary of $170,000 but collected more than $590,000 because of allowances stipulated in his contract.

He only treated patients at the hospital for one or two days per week but was on call for the remainder of the time from the comfort of his home in the southern capital.

A recent audit of the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service revealed the fly-in fly-out doctor was one of 21 found to be on non-compliant contracts.

The doctors were afforded free cars, car allowances and housing for the first three months after relocating to the region.

However, those allowances went totally unchecked allowing them to claim a further six months worth of free accommodation.

Queensland Health no longer employs the 21 doctors identified in the audit.

Mr Springborg said on Sunday the case was unacceptable and demonstrated serious failings with the existing structure and administration of doctors' employment arrangements.

"In this one region alone, unauthorised sweetheart deals, set up under the administrative structure of the former government, were bleeding the health system of $3 million a year," he said.

"This is on top of the estimated $800 million lost through badly administered private practice arrangements identified and condemned by the Queensland Auditor General in his recent reports."

Mr Springborg said Queensland Health director-general Ian Maynard would be writing to the 16 Hospital and Health Services across the state requiring checks to be undertaken to determine whether such non-compliant arrangements were widespread.

"The findings in this one Hospital and Health Service indicate a potential state-wide loss of up to $60 million a year," he said.

"This is money that should be allocated to patient care spent instead on cars, car allowances and airfares that were not properly approved or monitored."

Mr Springborg said wasteful administrative loopholes and failures identified by the Auditor General in his reports were the key reason for the government's decision to implement new individual contracts and private practice arrangements for the state's senior and visiting medical officers from July 7.


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