30 Illawarra health workers ‘paid for nothing’

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The Opposition’s Jillian Skinner claims taxpayers are paying for non-working bureaucrats.The region’s hospitals are paying 30 displaced health bureaucrats to do nothing, according to the NSW Opposition.But NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca claims those displaced are performing “meaningful work”. The “unattached list” of NSW Health personnel, obtained by the State Opposition and revealed at yesterday’s health budget estimates hearing, shows the number of displaced employees has almost doubled since the health services were amalgamated in 2005.Statewide, the number of displaced personnel rose from 145 in September 2005 to 260 in May this year, according to the list.In the South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service, the number rose from 20 to 30.An area health service spokeswoman said it would “breach confidentiality/privacy requirements” to reveal how many of the 30 personnel were employed within the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.The spokeswoman also declined to comment on what roles the staff were now performing or how much it was costing to employ them.But Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said taxpayers were spending at least $20.8 million employing displaced personnel across the state while the health system was $300 million in the red.”These bureaucrats sit around, using up valuable resources, while the state Labor Government says there’s not enough money for hospital upgrades,” Mrs Skinner said.”Patients who continue to wait for their operations and communities who have waited years for their local hospital to be upgraded would be outraged this money is being spent on bureaucrats.”A spokesman from Mrs Skinner’s office said those displaced were “usually bureaucrats that had been working on some sort of project or some sort of administrative body that has been dissolved or has finished”.But Mr Della Bosca said the employees worked in temporary positions and filled in for colleagues on maternity, long service or sick leave.He offered as examples a finance officer working on an auditing project, a purchasing officer working in a maintenance call centre and a health education officer working in a training and development role.There were “just over 270″ names on the displaced list, representing less than 0.3 per cent of the NSW Health workforce, he said.”It is wrong of the Opposition to claim these health workers aren’t working,” Mr Della Bosca said.Restructuring could result in personnel losing their permanent positions, but where possible their expertise was utilised in other positions.
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