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Union alarmed at health job cuts

Published: 6:24AM Thursday October 22, 2009 Source: ONE News

The Public Service Association is expressing alarm over the planned cuts to health administration jobs.

The government is looking to cut 500 jobs from the sector, with the idea that backroom staff from the 21 district health boards would form a new National Health Board within the Ministry of Health.
But the PSA says there's serious concern for those workers who will suddenly find themselves unemployed.
The association says it's also concerned patient care will suffer, with other medical staff having to pick up the work of the lost staff.

"Our concern is that cutting administrative and clerical workers in hospitals will mean doctors, nurses, radiotherapists and other clinical workers will have to pick up their work," says Richard Wagstaff, PSA national secretary.

Planning by Ministry of Health staff was important during the recent swine flu epidemic, he says.

Doubts 500 jobs can be axed

Meanwhile, a senior lecturer in preventative and social medicine at Otago University, Dr Robin Gauld, has doubts about whether the government can reach the proposed 500 job cut target in the health sector.

Gauld says history tells us that whenever there is a restructuring there are promises of jobs downsizing but that has actually never happened.

He told TVNZ News at 8 this not necessarily negative.

"I think that the jobs are going to be required for the people in the quality area, in the health technology assessment area and these are going to be people with really crucial skills in fact. In fact we may not have enough people to do that kind of work.

"So long term I don't know whether the jobs are going to go, because I think health care is a very complex area. It's very difficult to take people out."