Health blueprint pours salt in the wounds
AS if 234 local job cuts didn't hurt enough, health staff have received another devastating blow with future privatisations and outsourcing in the sector announced.
The State Government released the Blueprint for better healthcare in Queensland an hour before hundreds of protesters converged outside the Cairns Base Hospital and in Brisbane yesterday.
The 48-page report has led to further anxiety over job security with medical services including pathology and radiography expected to be outsourced, according to unions.
Together union secretary Alex Scott fears privatising areas of the public health system would make it easier for the State Government to shift blame to companies in charge if problems arise.
"What we have seen is the beginning of a tidal wave of privatisation occurring; what we will see is large-scale clinical work being privatised," he said.
"We know pathology, oncology, radiography and pharmacy are all up for privatisation, plus other areas."
The report outlined a new contestability branch within the health department to focus on "outsourcing, co-sourcing and public-private joint ventures" to existing services.
It specified central pharmacy, medical equipment services, pathology, diagnostic imaging and medical typing would be scrutinised while payroll, internal auditing and information technology would also be examined.
"While we are protesting for the fact we used to have the best health system in the world, now we are going to have the cheapest health system in the word," Mr Scott said. "The next fight is the fight for our lives.
"Queenslanders are going to die as a result. We are going to have a health system which is underfunded."
Cairns administration officer Deb Carter was told her position, as well as 29 others in the medical records department at Cairns Base Hospital, had been made redundant last week.
"My job has been abolished. We are just all devastated," she said.
After working for Queensland Health for 17 years, Ms Carter claimed talking to the media could jeopardise her redundancy package but said other hospital workers were too scared to speak out.
"I've lost my job. Someone's got to speak out. I'm not scared," she said.
"All jobs are at threat now. If they are outsourced they'll bring different companies in."
CHHHS board chairman Bob Norman said the service already worked with private partners to deliver healthcare in the region.
"This includes tendered contracts with Radiation Oncology Queensland and Radiology SA to deliver radiation oncology treatment at the Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre and radiology reporting services," he said.
About 400 workers at Cairns Hinterland Hospital and Health Servicehave lost their jobs with part-time and job-share staff also caught up in the 234 positions being abolished.
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Job anger:Cairns Base Hospital workers protest against staff cuts yesterday. Picture: ANNA ROGERS