150 jobs slashed, $80m saved in health restructure

I didn't think it would ever happen. But it's only a start

A SHAKE-UP of NSW Health will slash 150 management jobs and save $80 million, which will be transferred to frontline hospital services.

The new director general of health, Mary Foley, commissioned the overhaul, which will abolish a layer of middle management made up of 200 staff who oversee local health districts.

Another 100 positions will be shed from NSW Health's head office in North Sydney

The Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, said 150 positions would be made redundant. The remaining 150 would be transferred to other areas, including district services.

The restructure is part of the government's promised devolution of management from head office to local area health services.

"We are removing a middle layer of management which will allow resources to be deployed to support frontline health care," she said. "The new structure will provide greater transparency and accountability, duplication of tasks will be stopped and there will be greater clarity of roles and responsibilities."

The former Labor government introduced the middle-layer management positions last year, calling them clusters across three areas - northern, western, and southern.

The restructure would strengthen the government's so-called pillars: the Agency for Clinical Innovation, the Clinical Excellence Commission, the Health Education and Training Institute and the Bureau of Health Information. New eHealth, pathology and infrastructure services would be consolidated.

Mrs Skinner said the Department of Health would become the Ministry of Health and be reduced in size, with "a flatter structure" giving local health districts greater control.

The Public Service Association said the job cuts would jeopardise the development of health policy in NSW and undermine the quality of health service control.

A PSA industrial officer, Ayshe Lewis, said no voluntary redundancies would be offered. She said the announcement would cut the number of head office employees by a third. "While some of the positions are vacant, most of them are filled by temporary staff who are carrying out the work," she said.

"It's a furphy that cutting these positions will not impact on the delivery of frontline health services. The delivery of effective services is dependent on smart policy and program design. Health professionals on the front line can't do their jobs if they don't have expert guidance and support."

The opposition spokesman on health, Andrew McDonald, said the job cuts would have "a major impact on patient care".

"Job cuts to administration workers means other frontline staff will be left to fill the void," he said. "These job cuts are hitting the very workers responsible for driving change and innovation in health."

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said the minister had "deleted" jobs and destroyed 150 careers.

"She has also removed both the central and cluster support needed to make the public health system run effectively and efficiently," he said. "[Her] rhetoric about deploying resources to the front line is a thinly veiled excuse to slash the health budget."


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