Oh dear some awful income inequality

Martin Johnston at NZ Herald reports:

Some Auckland surgeons are being paid more than $6000 for a day’s work at a public hospital.

My God. They are part of the 1% scum.

The Waitemata District Board scheme has divided doctors over concerns that the surgeons involved can earn nearly four times as much as general physicians and psychiatrists on their collective agreement’s top step.

alert. This is evil and must be stopped.

The Waitakere “pilot” project pays orthopaedic surgeons a contract rate of $2200 for each total hip or knee replacement package of care. This comprises $1320 for the operation plus $880 for daily patient review, any call-backs during the hospital stay, availability for six weeks after surgery and a six-week visit.

A fixed cost per operation. We can’t have that.

On the union-negotiated multi-employer collective agreement, specialists of all kinds on the highest step earn an annual base salary of $206,000, or $99 an hour, but this increases to around $170 an hour when leave, KiwiSaver and allowances are factored in. Some specialists are paid above the collective’s rates.

Good God, they get paid even more than stevedores.

Senior doctors’ union executive director Ian Powell said the split rates undermined the team-work that was critical to the safety of patients in a complex public hospital.

Oh yes, because one doctor is paid more than another, they will compromise patient safety. I have to say I don’t know any doctors like that.

So why is the DHB doing this nasty income inequality with its doctors?

DHB chairman Lester Levy said the pilot had worked very well.

The rates paid to orthopaedic surgeons were around 60 per cent of private-sector rates. The scheme had led to a number of surgeons opting to do less private-sector work in favour of doing most of their work on public patients.

Productivity was up by a third. Costs shrank 12 per cent for hips and 16 per cent for knees because of a 40 per cent reduction in patients’ average length of stay in hospital, less time in theatre and fewer staff being involved in treatment.

Bringing previously out-sourced surgery in-house saved the DHB $3 million in the last financial year. Patient satisfaction was high and the transfer rate to North Shore Hospital was low.

So paying some staff more has saved the DHB money, improved productivity, reduced lengths of stays in hospitals, increased patient satisfaction and reduced the transfer rate.

But despite this, the union is against this because not all staff are paid more, only some.

Labour should be welcoming what Lester Levy is doing. Rather than contract their operations out to the private sector, the is now doing them in-house.

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