An aerial view of the Tweed Hospital.
An aerial view of the Tweed Hospital.

North Coast health jobs axed

ONE hundred jobs will be axed immediately from North Coast Area Health, with 59 going from hospitals across the Northern Rivers, documents obtained by The Tweed Daily News can reveal.

Late last night North Coast Area Health service chief executive Chris Crawford confirmed the job cuts and said another 100 will be announced soon.

About 150 non-front line positions have already been axed in August/September.

In total 400 positions will be slashed from the 6000-strong North Coast Area Health Service, Mr Crawford said.

“We can deliver the same level of staffing with less staff,” he said.

“We will not be using as many casuals or permanent part-time staff who work above their contracted hours.”

Mr Crawford said no full-time staff would lose their jobs.

“It is positions that are being deleted, not staff.”

The vast majority of positions to be “deleted” in this round are nurses in life-saving areas such as intensive care, theatres, oncology and renal care.

According to the documents The Tweed Hospital will lose 15.5 positions, with more than three jobs to go from the surgical ward and 2.79 positions to be cut from palliative care.

Murwillumbah District Hospital will lose close to nine positions with the largest cut (2.63) to the surgical ward.

News of the cuts came as a massive disappointment to Murwillumbah Hospital Support Committee chairman Ian Ross.

“Our worst fears have been realised,” Mr Ross said.

He said any more cuts to the Murwillumbah District Hospital would be detrimental.

“We're running very, very tight as it is,” he said.

“They've already closed down all sorts of things, such as there's no physio-therapy for outside of the hospital, only patients, there's no proper mental health services, maternity has been reduced to a bare minimum and the admin staff within the hospital are being transferred to Tweed Heads.”

Lismore Base Medical Staff Council spokesman Dr Chris Ingall yesterday warned the cuts to the area's already over-stretched health system would dramatically increase the risk of life-threatening mistakes.

“As clinicians on the front line we can only do so much; accidents may happen,” he said.

“The bureaucrats need to be put on notice that by cutting the health dollar they are increasing the risks in the health system.”

Lismore Base hospital appears set to bear the brunt of the cuts.

It will lose more than 48 positions, including four full-time theatre nurses, five night-relief staff, four nurses from its orthopaedic ward, four from maternity and one from its renal unit.

Mr Crawford said he was still considering cuts to nursing staff at emergency departments at Lismore Base Hospital, Ballina and Casino.

He said the cuts were necessary to stay within the budget.

“The (NSW) Department of Health decides what we have, my job is finding ways to administer it,” he said.

“We have to delete 400 positions to get a re-alignment between the budget and expenditure.”

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