South Australia’s health department is offering hospital staff voluntary redundancies, insisting it’s what some workers want.
Staff from the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network (WCHN) have been invited to register their interest in Voluntary Separation Packages (VSPs). The networks manage the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
CEO of CALHN, Lesley Dwyer, said the redundancy packages are part of a bigger plan to improve service delivery, not an attack on staff.
“This process is not about targeting individual staff; rather offering VSPs gives us the opportunity to realign our resources,” she said in a statement.
“A recent public sector survey indicated that a large number of our employees were interested in leaving the workplace and the VSP process gives staff a chance to express their interest in a package and time to consider their options, without being locked into an immediate decision.
“We need to operate within our means, and to bring CALHN back to a size and a shape that will allow us to realise the ambition that we have for the future.”
Head of WCHN Lindsey Gough made a similar comment.
“Some staff have asked about the possibility of VSPs and the Department of Treasury and Finance have afforded us an opportunity to offer these at this in time,” she said.
“We are eager to hear from interested staff through the expressions of interest, and will work collaboratively with our clinical leaders to ensure our patient outcomes remain the priority.”
But staff and their unions have reportedly been “blindsided” by the announcement, according to InDaily and plan to take the department to the Employment Tribunal. They have argued that hospitals desperately need more hands on deck, not less.
Opposition health spokesman Chris Picton has also condemned the decision.
“Steven Marshall has decided to pour petrol on the fire of this ramping crisis by announcing massive cuts of staff across some of our major hospitals, this is going to turn a really bad situation into a disaster,” he said.
According to SA Health, applications for redundancy will be “considered in the context of wider staffing requirements”.
Staff will be able to withdraw their expression of interest before accepting a formal offer.