Local Health Networks now operating

At the beginning of January this year Local Health Networks came into operation, replacing the existing area health services.

The NSW Health Service underwent another shake-up at the beginning of 2011 as Local Health Networks (LHNs) came into existence on 1 January.

Regardless of the change, which sees LHNs replace the previous area health services, the Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that all staff will continue to remain employees of NSW Health.

At a Peak Health Industrial Consultative Committee meeting held on 9 December 2010, public health unions were provided with an update regarding the progression of LHNs by the DOH.

In addition to Chief Executives being appointed to the LHNs, a number of second-tier positions will be required, in order to establish greater autonomy and decision-making.

It is hoped the second-tier positions for each LHN will be in place by later this month, after which placement or recruitment into any new structures or roles created as a result of LHNs and Clinical Support Clusters (see box below) is likely to occur by 1 July 2011.

The DOH reiterated that the objective of the overall placement and recruitment process was to place as many employees as possible in a job, and that for most staff no tangible change will occur in their job or activities.

Clinical Support Clusters

Clinical Support Clusters were set up in November last year, each with a Chief Operations Officer (COO). The Clusters’ roles are to support and assist LHNs to progressively transition to full operation; to preserve and support the ongoing development of clinical networks; and to enable LHNs to receive support and access expertise without the need to hold this technical support within every network – thus avoiding an increase in the number of bureaucrats, as required by the National Health Reform Agreement signed between the Commonwealth and the State.

There are three Clinical Support Clusters, each of which is linked to a group of LHNs to provide expert clinical support, expertise and advice.

They are:

Northern Cluster

COO Nigel Lyons (formerly Chief Executive of Hunter New England AHS). Supporting the Central Coast, Hunter New England, Mid North Coast, Northern and Northern Sydney LHNs.

Western Cluster

COO Mike Wallace (formerly Chief Executive of Sydney South West AHS).

Supporting the Far West, Western, Nepean Blue Mountains, South Western Sydney, Western Sydney and Sydney LHNs.

Southern Cluster

COO Matthew Daly (formerly Chief Executive of Northern Sydney, Central Coast AHS).

Supporting the Illawarra Shoalhaven, Murrumbidgee, South Eastern Sydney and Southern LHNs.