Union fears Fremantle Hospital job cuts

The union warns that hundreds of jobs are on the line.
The union warns that hundreds of jobs are on the line.

FREMANTLE Hospital will be one of the hardest hit during a Health Department budget reshuffle, according to the Health Services Union of WA.

With staff numbers expected to be one of the first areas cut, the HSUWA believe Fremantle, Fiona Stanley and Royal Perth hospitals will be the worst hit, with hundreds of jobs expected to go.

HSUWA acting assistant secretary Richard Barlow said the single biggest cost in health was staffing, accounting for as much as 75 per cent of expenditure, and any cuts to health spending usually impacted on employment.

“The Barnett Government are applying a budget formula for health spending which says that Fiona Stanley, RPH and Fremantle Hospital are over budget for the number of patients they are seeing, but they have had to contend with massive changes and Fremantle has been hit hard with the loss of its emergency department and many key surgical specialities,” he said.

“It takes time and resources to change the direction of a large hospital and get it moving effectively and efficiently on a different path.

“The staff at Fremantle Hospital are likely to be facing a period of painful adjustment and not meeting elective surgery targets could cause a further downshifting of expectations about the future, and specialists and surgeons may look elsewhere if Fremantle cannot offer a sustainable level of work.”

Fremantle Hospital executive director David Blythe said about 3000 staff were moved throughout WA Health when Fremantle reconfigured to a specialist hospital in February this year.

He said the changes were because all three hospitals were considered overstaffed and were exceeding their budget.

“Rather than the discontinuation of services, the focus is on redesigning services to become more effective and efficient,” he said.

“Heads of departments at all three hospitals are still in the process of redesigning models of care, which includes reviewing rostering, overtime and recall requirements, all of which are calculated in a hospital’s FTE (full-time equivalent) figure.

“It will only be at the conclusion of this redesign phase that we will see the impact on staffing levels.”