Striking doctors ?annoyed
By ZOE SATHERLEY
STRIKING anaesthetist Dr David Scott can't understand why North Coast Area Health Service boss Chris Crawford is prepared to fork out 'up to $100,000 per week' to pay locum specialists and rob local doctors of a job.
"I feel frustrated, annoyed, somewhat confused and disappointed," Dr Scott said.
He said his seven colleagues who had walked out of Lismore Base Hospital over a long-standing pay and conditions dispute with the NCAHS were all feeling the same.
They remain unemployed and without a contract to consider, while locum anaesthetists, flown in from all over Australia, get paid $3500 per shift and then leave town with their money.
Dr Scott has accused Mr Crawford of trying to coerce anaesthetists into accepting a less favourable deal because 'he knows they can't survive much longer without public hospital work'.
However, Mr Crawford said nothing could be further from the truth and that Dr Scott's figures were wrong.
"We want them to come back," Mr Crawford said.
"We are working as quickly as we can to transfer what you might call the 'narrative' documents that have passed between us into legal terminology.
"We hope contracts will be available for them to look at by Monday."
Mr Crawford said the average cost of hiring locums since July 1 ? when the dispute began ? had been about $66,000 per week.
Based on this figure, paying for locum anaesthetists has cost $1,155,000 over this period.
But Mr Crawford said that hiring locums would incur a cost even if all striking specialists were back at work, because of a long-standing general shortage of anaesthetists.