Victorian Medical Physics workforce shortages are approaching a critical point. This is a dangerous and urgent situation which must be addressed.
Medical Physicists ensure the safe and accurate use of radiation for the treatment of cancer and diagnosis of disease. The medical physicists workforce in Victoria is declining to numbers that are unsafe, as physicists are moving interstate for better paid jobs. Victorians’ access to timely and best practice cancer treatment is being compromised.
Ten years ago the federal government initiated an enquiry into the cancer workfore in Australia (the Baume Report). In 2002 the Report recommended, among other things, that the federal government set up a national body which would
“Take steps to improve workforce numbers by providing a better career path for medical physicists, with better remuneration and recognition for their roles. The number of entrants to these professions must also be increased. That is, we must increase simultaneously recruitment to, and reduce attrition from, the workforce.”
It was also recommended that the proposed national body should work closely with relevant unions to develop a nationally consistent approach to increased remuneration for medical physicists, which includes compensation for out-of-hours work and more appropriate links to accreditation and education. It was recommended that this negotiation should start no later than 2003.
The remuneration of physicists in other states has been addressed, starting with NSW in 2007, as a result of an independent decision by the NSW Industrial Commission which assessed the work value of physicists.
The Victorian government is well aware of the issues relating to the workforce shortage and wage disparity. The key issues have been communicated to Ted Baillieu and the Minister of Health on a number of occasions.
It would cost $2 million per year to fix the problem, in the context of a total Victorian health budget of $13.68 billion per annum.
Please sign this petition, and take the time to contact your local MP and ask them to raise the issue in parliament on your behalf.
Cancer is the major cause of death and illness in Victoria, and the incidence is rising.
Yet patients in Victoria are being denied timely access to state of the art radiation therapy because of the shortage of medical physicists in this state. Radiation physicists ensure that the correct dose of radiation is delivered to the correct site in the body to kill tumour cells. It is complex, highly technical work which requires lengthy training (5 years post graduate) and special skills and judgement. Physicists also use specialised equipment to diagnose disease.
The critical shortage of medical physicists has occurred because physicists are leaving Victoria for better pay interstate, and cancer services are unable to recruit to new and vacant positions because of uncompetitive salaries.
All of the radiation physicist registrars currently training in Victoria are looking to move interstate once they have completed their 5 year training – training which is paid for by Victorian taxpayers.
Your Health Minister, David Davis, is aware of the problem. He advised medical physicists that the problem should be addressed through enterprise bargaining with health services.
The physicists have been attempting to bargain with cancer services over salaries since January 2012. They were offered a deal, only to have it taken away by your government.
What would it cost to fix the problem: $2 million per year compared to a cancer treatment budget of millions of dollars and a total state health budget of $14 billion dollars.
I urge you to act now and release funding to ensure that medical physicists stay in Victoria and additional physicists can be recruited.
This will ensure access by cancer sufferers in Victoria to the best radiation therapy treatment, rather than them facing long waiting times – for access to less than the best technology and treatment modalities.
Failure to act will only make the situation worse, as the demand for radiation treatment of cancer increases.
Please take action now.