Anaesthetists agree to $180 an hour

By RENEE REDMOND

Pay dispute now settled

AN AGREEMENT of guaranteed hours and safe working conditions is what North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford says stopped a mass exit of the area's anaesthetists.

Mr Crawford said the final arrangement, which took almost five months to reach, would see all but one of the anaesthetists employed by the service returning to work by Monday.

"The one anaesthetist who moved on did so for reasons outside the dispute," he said.

"We'll be employing another four anaesthetists and have already had three interested applicants."

Mr Crawford said the hourly rate of $180 for senior specialists had not changed despite requests for the rate to increase to $300.

"The rate is decided by the Australian Medical Association and the Department of Health. The figure is the same across the State," he said.

"They've each been guaranteed an evening session from 6pm until midnight, five nights a week, plus weekend work," he said.

Previously, the anaesthetists only worked on demand.

A new anaesthetist co-ordinator will also be employed to run the department and ensure safe working hours.

Under their three-year contract the anaesthetists will also be able to claim up to 12 hours a month in education payments for doing study related to their work.



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