Workers from the Together Union protest outside Parliament House last month. Picture: Rob Maccoll Source: The Courier-Mail
THE Newman Government razor gang is seeking to slice up to 4000 employees from Queensland Health.
The Courier-Mail has been told the Government believes it can achieve the extraordinary target figure without affecting frontline services.
Employees in areas such as preventative health as well as others in non-clinical and administrative positions are in the Government’s crosshairs as it seeks to reduce the department’s $18 million-a-day wages bill.
More than 7000 job cuts have already been identified by the Government across the entire public service.
However, large cuts in Health are needed to achieve the Newman Government’s 20,000 target, a figure that emerged out of the Commission of Audit report into the state’s finances.
A spokesman for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg insisted no firm target figure had been decided as consultation continues with key stakeholders.
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Recommended CoverageANY budget can be dragged back into the black if spending is cut enough, with constrained regard to immediate impact or the longer-term consequences.THE public sector union has called off planned industrial action in a “good faith” gesture while a pay deal is negotiated in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.TREASURER Tim Nicholls blames the media for any perceptions of low consumer confidence in Queensland – where 20,000 public servants face the sack.CAMPBELL Newman blames public service leaks for creating uncertainty in the government workforce, while again refusing to confirm or deny the future of thousands of jobs.
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However, he confirmed there would be “significant reductions” in the department.
“We are going to have a very lean structure to what we had in the past,” the spokesman said.
However, senior government sources confirmed a workforce reduction of 4000 was being pursued.
Unions are concerned the cuts will have dire impacts on frontline services with clinical staff being dragged away from patients to complete necessary paperwork.
“People have to pick up administration work and other operation work if those staff aren’t going to be there,” Queensland Nurses Union state secretary Beth Mohle said yesterday.
Ms Mohle said the union did not believe the Government’s economic rationale for cutting jobs, particularly given international conditions.
“Any government should just be ashamed of themselves in cutting jobs in the current environment,” she said.
There has been speculation within senior levels of the department that up to 10,000 of the 67,000 staff could lose their jobs under a restructure announced in June.
Many of the job losses are expected to come from Queensland Health’s corporate head office as responsibilities are devolved into the three new divisions.
While official figures show Health’s head office has about 8000 full-time equivalent employees, almost half are in areas of pathology and public health units that will be devolved into other areas when new hospital boards begin.
However, the Government is still convinced it can cut thousands of staff as it refocuses the department primarily on providing hospital services.
The Commission of Audit interim report found Queensland’s public service staff numbers had increased by 40 per cent since June 2000, surpassing 200,000 in 2011.
However, while almost half of the extra staff were in Queensland Health, this has not resulted in the same increase in output.
“For example, while clinical (staff) have increased by about 31 per cent since 2006-07, hospital activity has increased by only 21 per cent,” the report said. “This suggests a weak outcome in terms of workforce deployment and a poor return on the additional expenditure undertaken.”