Sue McKee Chief Executive of West Moreton Hospital and Health Service.
Sue McKee Chief Executive of West Moreton Hospital and Health Service. Contributed

Predicted health budget blowout causes fear for jobs

A FORECAST $6 million budget blowout across Ipswich's health services has executives scrambling to cut costs, causing staff on temporary contracts to fear for their jobs.

The QT was told health staff across the West Moreton region received an email saying temporary contracts were under review and all future staff recruitment had to receive personal approval from CEO Sue McKee.

A total of 1947 staff in the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service are on temporary contracts or arrangements.

Ms McKee addressed a monthly staff meeting yesterday where she told employees that rumours of job losses were not true.

A staff member who asked to remain anonymous said they were told no decisions had yet been made on the future of positions on temporary arrangements.

"We just feel like we're being lied to," the staff member said.

"We want some answers. People know something is coming."

"After what happened years ago (Liberal Government job cuts), everyone is preparing for it."

The staff member said Ms McKee told the meeting that plans would begin to be put in place next week.

They said the email sent to staff by Ms McKee detailed the forecasted $6 million "financial gap" if spending continued the way it was going.

"Over the past six months, I have been talking about our deteriorating financial position," Ms McKee said in the email.

"Although we were provided with additional funding this year, our staffing numbers have grown without a corresponding growth in our activity."

"We need to broaden our actions and make some difficult decisions"

In a statement to the QT yesterday, Ms McKee confirmed WMHHS was working to reduce the number of temporary arrangements.

"There are currently no decisions to cut jobs," she said.

"We are looking at all opportunities to reduce waste and improve our efficiency, as all organisations do on a regular basis.

"We need to ensure West Moreton is building a structure and workforce that is ready and capable to effectively care for the increasing population."

A total 3471 people are employed in WMHHS, including 2702 at Ipswich Hospital.

Only a year ago, WMHHS's outgoing CEO Lesley Dwyer told the QT the service's financial position was stable.

It received a $12.6 million boost to the budget for 2015-16 financial year giving it an operating budget of $469.8 million.

The year before, it got a $28.6 million boost to help build a mental health care facility and manage demand in the emergency department.

Ms McKee said in her e-mail to staff a loss of $6m was not sustainable and would impact on the ability in the future to access funds from the government for future expansion.

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