Outrage As SA Pathology Staff Hear Of Job Cuts On Radio

2 April 2019

If the ongoing ‘will-they-won’t-they’ privatisation debate had left any SA Pathology staff questioning their future at the state pathology service, this morning’s ABC radio interview with Minister Wade certainly cleared that up.

Before any information could be communicated to SA Pathology staff (a staff meeting was already scheduled for 10am today), the Minister for Health and Wellbeing declared live on radio at 8.30am today that 200 FTE jobs would be cut in the search for “efficiencies” at the struggling service.

ANMF (SA Branch) Director of Operations and Strategy Rob Bonner says what he heard on the radio this morning was just “outrageous”.

“For SA Pathology staff to find out through live radio that they have a 1 of 7 chance of losing their job is just outrageous,” Mr Bonner says.

“There was a staff meeting scheduled to be held not long after the Minister’s radio interview—that news should have been delivered to staff in that, far less public, forum.”  What made the Minister’s behaviour even more inexplicable was the fact that unions had been scheduled to receive information from the review team on the basis that it was embargoed – not to be released – until the planned staff meeting, to avoid any ‘leaks’.

The news of job losses was wrapped up in a promise of a 12-month reprieve of privatisation, with the Minister encouraging “the unions” to work with government to drive efficiencies before a review of the service is conducted in another year.

“While the ANMF (SA Branch) is committed to helping identify ways to drive efficiencies at any public health facility or service, this does not extend to forced redundancies for staff.”

Mr Bonner says staff and patients had already been let down by a the drain of people in leadership positions at the troubled service.

“Without an Executive Director, Deputy Director or Clinical Director, SA Pathology has been without any true leadership for some time,” Mr Bonner says.

“It’s a big ask for us to believe that recruitment to the vacant leadership positions will be an easy task never mind the new team being able to turn a service into a viable operation in just 12 months—all with a privatisation axe hovering above their heads.”

“It is possible that the Government is simply seeking to make job and cost cuts that would make sale of the service more lucrative in the market.  We are certainly seeking assurances that this would not be the result of the pain to be inflicted in the coming months.”

Briefing background:

ANMF (SA Branch) officers today attended a presentation by the Government-appointed reviewers of the service, PriceWaterhouseCoopers who revealed:

*   There is a focus on making the service competitive, with the aim of keeping the service in the public domain.
*   SA Pathology is considered an integral part of SA Health and the recommendation was to make it cost effective but keep it within the public sphere.
*   The service needs to be realigned, including a re-alignment of the staffing skill mix.
*   The collection centres were a point of review.

Other recommendations included:

*  Planning a comprehensive improvement to the operational model with appropriate support.
*  Build strong financial commercial and managerial capability
*  Develop better financial operational data to drive performance
*  Strengthen SLAs

Progress against the above will be reviewed in 12 -18 months.

The report has just been released and ANMF (SA Branch) is currently reviewing in detail, although media reports suggest 10 collection centres will be closed down in addition to 200 job cuts. View report here .

The report is due for release shortly, although media reports suggest 10 collection centres will be closed down in addition to 200 job cuts.

ANMF (SA Branch) is providing ongoing support and advice to its members at SA Pathology.