The New South Wales Health Minister has directed the state’s health department to make more than $3 billion in savings. [ABC News]
Jillian Skinner has confirmed local health districts will be required to find $775 million dollars in staff savings under a “labour expense cap”.
A further $2.2 billion will be cut from the health bureaucracy over the next four years.
Ms Skinner denies the measures amount to budget cuts, saying the savings will be redirected into frontline health services.
“(We are) moving money from inefficient, less efficient ways of treating patients down to the front line so that, for example, this year we’ll be treating 50,000 extra emergency department patients, 30,000 extra in-patients and we’re doing 2,000 extra elective surgeries,” she said.
“Not relying on locum doctors, that costs millions of dollars a year, not relying on agency nurses, putting on permanent staff.”
Labor is concerned the O’Farrell Government will not be able to quarantine frontline health jobs.
Opposition leader John Robertson is sceptical of the health minister’s claims the cuts will be redirected.
“Slashing $3 billion from New South Wales hospitals is going to mean fewer beds, longer waiting times and compromised patient care,” he said.
“No one could have anticipated a $3 billion cut to health funding from Barry O’Farrell based on what he’s told voters before the election.”
General Secretary of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association Brett Holmes says the cuts will impact on patient care.
“A lot of talk about re-directing money from backroom services to frontline services is all spin,” he said.
“When you take $3 billion out then you have to say some level of services must be cut.
“This will have an impact on the ability to deliver services to patients in New South Wales.”
The announcement comes just days after the State Government announced a $1.7 billion cut to the education budget.
Credit: ABS News