O’Farrell axes 5,000 Public Sector Jobs

Rhonda Burke, CNS, Mona Vale and Manly Hospital
Rhonda Burke, CNS, Mona Vale and Manly Hospital

There was slightly more money for health in the O’Farrell Government’s first State Budget but it comes at the cost of massive job cuts elsewhere in the public sector.The O’Farrell Government announced 5,000 public sector jobs are to go in the State Budget. But this is likely to be merely a start as it also flagged another $4 billion in unidentified savings over the next four years.

The Government did not specify which departments would be cut but NSW Treasurer Mike Baird said nurses, teachers and police would be spared the cuts.

NSWNA Secretary Brett Holmes says more money for health is always welcome but many of the Government’s health spending ‘initiatives’ were just spending commitments that were won from the previous Labor Government.

‘The Government made great fanfare of an $80 million promise to employ 900 extra nurses by June 2012. This is simply a commitment to honour the agreement won by NSWNA members during the ratios campaign with the previous Labor Government,’ he said.

In 2011-2012, the new Ministry of Health’s budget is $16.4 billion, an increase of $949 million or 6.1% on 2010-2011.

The Government has promised $36 million for 150 new beds and an extra $109 million for mental health.

There is also increased funding for hospital buildings. The NSW Government and the Federal Government through the Health and Hospitals Fund will invest $850 million to develop South East regional Hospital, Bega, and redevelop Dubbo Base, Port Macquarie Base, Tamworth Regional Referral and Wagga Wagga Base Hospitals.

According to the budget papers, wages are expected to grow by 4% over the next two years over both public and private sectors. The NSW Government sector represents about 12% of total employment in the state so O’Farrell’s freeze on public sector wages will have only a small impact on total state wages growth.

Inflation rates are expected to be 3.8%, then 2.5% and then increase to 3% and 3.25% in subsequent years.

‘With private sector wages increasing at 4%, inflation being over 3% and nurses’ wages capped at 2.5%, there will be pressure on nurses to seek other opportunities in the private sector,’ said Brett Holmes.

New ‘Ministry of health’

The Director-General’s report on the governance structures of NSW Health has been released by the NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

NSW Health has been renamed the Ministry of Health and reduced in size with a loss of 150 positions.

The three Clinical Support Clusters have been abolished and their functions and resources devolved to the Local Health Districts.

The Local Health Districts and Specialty Health Networks will have responsibility for their local area or specialty network.

Health Support Services will become HealthShare NSW. ICT Statewide services will become eHealth NSW.