Health jobs 'deleted'
JOBS at the Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah hospitals are under threat, following a decision from North Coast health bosses to “delete” 400 positions across northern New South Wales.
North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford said, in the 23 hospitals and health services, 400 positions would be “deleted” due to the service's $8 million debt.
Mr Crawford admitted that Since September last year, 110 non-nursing jobs have been cut on the North Coast, including eight from Tweed Heads and three from Murwillumbah.
“What has happened over the past few years, the growing ageing population has meant hospitals are treating more patients than we've had budgets for,” Mr Crawford said.
“So we need to look at reducing our staff levels without impacting our clinical services.”
Mr Crawford said there would be no forced redundancies among the cuts.
“A list of 200 positions being considered for deletion from the NCAHS staffing structure, as part of the staff reorganisation, has been released for consultation only at this stage.
“This document has been distributed to the Health Services Union and staff as part of the consultation process.”
Mr Crawford said positions considered to be less-efficient in performance will be cut first.
“Positions are first identified from the administrative, support and corporate categories to ensure the impact on clinical service provision is minimised.
“The reorganisation of staff within the NCAHS is being carried out to improve the efficient delivery of services.”
But the Health Services Union (HSU) general secretary Michael Williamson said “these sorts of cuts will inevitably lead to reductions in service levels to the community”.
“One such example is that outpatient physiotherapy services are no longer available at Murwillumbah hospital as staffing levels are so low they can only provide care to in-patients,” Mr Williamson said.
HSU lead organiser for the North Coast Ken McIntosh added the “loser” in this are the local communities.
“One wonders what is going on at the moment, in that the Garling Report clearly identified the need to lift the numbers and services provided by allied health professionals, and that there needed to be an increase in support staff to lift the administrative burden of front-line clinicians.
“What is currently happening in the NCAHS seems completely at odds with these recommendations.”
Mr McIntosh said the level of uncertainty and confusion among staff is profound.
“It is so bad that some of our members are passing votes of no confidence against Chris Crawford and are considering industrial action if we can't cut through and find out what is really going on.”
Major local issues, Mr McIntosh said, include The Tweed Hospital's new 30-bed unit not having 30 beds, and Murwillumbah District Hospital still running without an executive officer following the resignation of Ian Murray late last year.
And things are looking to stay this way if the proposed management structure is approved, according to Mr Crawford.
“We're proposing the Tweed and Murwillumbah hospitals be managed together; it's only in the consultation stage.”
What do you think about the imminent loss of health jobs across the north coast?