North Coast Area Health jobs cut.
North Coast Area Health jobs cut. Paul Zanetti

400 local health jobs to be 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 Northern Star reveal.

Late last night North Coast Area Health service chief executive Chris Crawford confirmed the job cuts and said another 100 would be announced soon, with 50 more to follow.

About 150-odd non-front line positions were already axed in August and September.

The cuts come after the State Government last year ordered the health service to slash millions of dollars from its budget.

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 lifesaving areas such as intensive care, theatres, oncology and renal care.

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

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.”

According to the document, Lismore Base bears 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.

It will also lose six cleaning staff and four from maintenance, plus 2.5 wardsmen.

Ballina Hospital will lose 1.4 nurses from its general ward.

Casino Hospital will lose 0.3 of a nurse from its surgical ward, plus cleaning and maintenance staff.

Kyogle Hospital will lose a nurse from each of its general and aged care wards, as well as a physiotherapy nurse.

Coraki Hospital will lose a cleaning position and a maintenance position.

The document reveals North Coast Area Health has yet to decide whether to axe two nursing positions at Nimbin Hospital, and one from the aged care section atUrbenville Hospital.

Mr Crawford 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.

Murwillumbah Hospital will lose nearly 10 positions, including 6.5 nurses. At Tweed, 15.5 positions will go.


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