Up to 35 local health jobs could go under the state government’s budget-cutting strategy according to the Health Services Union (HSU) and the state opposition.
Patient safety will be deeply compromised if the NSW government breaks an election promise and cuts 739 jobs from the hospital system this financial year, the HSU said yesterday.
The HSU and the opposition say the cuts will be inevitable if the health service is to achieve a total of $89 million in labour expense cap savings proposed by health minister Jillian Skinner.
Ms Skinner has placed the responsibility on local health districts to determine how they achieve the savings.
According to one report, the cuts would mean as many as 35 jobs could be axed in the Northern NSW Local Health District alone.
Opposition health spokesman Andrew McDonald told ABC radio, ‘these are vital frontline health workers: radiographers, doctors, therapists and ward clerks, and you can’t run a hospital system if you cut jobs like this’.
Newly elected HSU secretary Gerard Hayes vowed to fight the cuts with industrial action if necessary.
‘[This] news is highly alarming for anyone who believes NSW deserves a first-class hospital system. Hundreds of paramedics, hospital security officers and other hospital workers will have their jobs cut,’ Mr Hayes said yesterday.
‘Jillian Skinner cannot hide from this broken promise by trotting out the same old tired mantra about “frontline” jobs. Paramedics and security guards are frontline positions.
‘Cutting these jobs will seriously degrade our hospital system.’
But Ms Skinner has derided the calculation of the job cuts as ‘mischievous’.
‘It is nonsense to suggest that you can take a dollar figure, divide it by a fictional salary and come up with job cuts,’ the minister said. ‘Savings measures do not necessarily equate to job cuts.
‘What the local health districts are telling me is that savings can be made by measures such as reducing overtime payments, having less reliance on contractors, agency staff and fewer locums – none of which result in job losses to permanent frontline staff.’