Jobs of about 300 health workers at risk due to changes
UPDATE: About 300 health workers face losing their jobs due to changes announced by the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service on Thursday.
"Within the context of all of the changes and announcements we've made today, approximately 200 to 220 full-time equivalent jobs, about 300 people, are potentially at risk," WBHHS chief executive Adrian Pennington told Win News.
EARLIER: Maryborough's Yarralla Place nursing home will be sold off to a private or not-for-profit organisation, it has been confirmed.
Nurses jobs are now at risk but it is understood patients will not suffer any change to the level of service provided.
WBHHS also stated that Eidsvold hospital would cease to operate, however Health Minister Lawrence Springborg announced late on Thursday afternoon the search for new staff would be redoubled.
The hospital has relied on locum doctors and agency nurses for more than a year.
Other changes to the Community Hospitals Interface Program and indigenous health are also expected to be announced.
Mr Pennington said the service had conducted a series of reviews to determine where efficiencies and savings could be made.
"This process is a difficult but necessary one as Wide Bay, like any organisation, must operate within our allocated budget," Mr Pennington said.
"Our aim is delivering a balanced budget whilst maintaining the delivery of quality health services and reducing waiting times.
"This means we have to change the way we do things, and these proposals are the first step in working toward our aims."
One proposed change, endorsed by the WBHHS Board on Monday, January 14, is the transfer of the Yaralla Residential Aged Care Service to a private or not-for-profit organisation via an expression of interest process.
"I can give absolute assurance to our current residents at Yaralla that all 96 beds will remain open at the facility, and that the new owners will be bound to meet the same accredited standards currently provided by staff at Yaralla," Mr Pennington said.
"Staff will also have options to consider regarding their employment and we will be meeting with them next week to discuss the proposal and what it will mean for them.
"The second main proposal follows a review of the Eidsvold Multipurpose Health Service, in regard to risks associated with not being able to recruit either doctors or nurses on a long-term basis."
"This has challenged our ability to ensure continuity of high quality care. We have tried desperately over a long period to resolve the issues facing Eidsvold.
"To this end, a proposal to consolidate beds at Mundubbera Multipurpose Health Service and to provide primary care facilities at Eidsvold has been prepared in the absence of sustainable alternatives," Mr Pennington said.
He said a consultation process with a range of stakeholders including staff, patients, and the wider community would start immediately.
Mr Pennington said Wide Bay would also seek expressions of interest to run the Home and Community Care Service.
"We are aware there are some fantastic experienced organisations excelling in this field of health and by transferring the management of this service we can concentrate on our core business which is hospital services."
"It is important to reiterate that clients receiving HACC services currently will see little or no difference to the service they receive, and staff will have options available to them regarding their ongoing employment.
"We will adopt a transition process to ensure that the needs of all clients are appropriately met until a full takeover by a suitable and reputable provider is achieved," Mr Pennington said.
In addition, the Indigenous Community Health Service will transfer to the Medicare Local in Bundaberg, amalgamating the services delivered by both organisations and removing duplication.
Mr Pennington also said there were further changes taking place within the organisation with a review of corporate services and the Community and Hospitals Interface Program.
"The WBHHS has worked hard this year to achieve a balanced financial position and if current performance is maintained then this could make potential recurring savings available to invest in reducing waiting times for endoscopy and elective surgery."
He said recent additional pressure from a cut in funds provided by the Commonwealth Government had accelerated the need for changes to be made.
In Wide Bay, cuts totalled $4.9 million.
"We want to ensure the most efficient and effective use of taxpayers' money is achieved."
"We are committed to providing the best health care service for residents in Wide Bay within our funding allocation.
"Our primary focus is on patient care and we will work hard to ensure our services meet the health needs of our community."