A union has branded a health restructure as a "dog's breakfast" that has resulted in staff being pressured into taking voluntary redundancies.
The Southern NSW Local Health District proposed the changes last October after four years' work. At the time, CEO Margaret Bennett acknowledged that 53 people in managerial and support positions would be directly impacted, while 94 staff would be affected by changes to reporting lines, clarification to work and changes of grades.
"To the greatest extent possible, all of these staff will be matched into like positions," Ms Bennett said.
But Health Services Union (HSU) organiser Mark Jay said about 60 positions would be eliminated and 220 posts were affected by alterations to grading, reporting lines or work changes.
"Staff are being railroaded into taking voluntary redundancies," he said.
"A lot of staff (across the District) who are in key roles have left in the past four weeks. Margaret Bennett assured us those people who had their roles eliminated would be found another position. That doesn't seem to be happening and instead they're being pressured into taking the redundancies."
Last year, Ms Bennett said there would be no forced redundancies.
Mr Jay told The Post that while this was the case, managers who had been affected by the changes and who had applied for and accepted the new roles were discovering workloads and geographical areas of responsibility had vastly increased.
"They've been finding the jobs are bigger than Ben Hur yet they're expected to work for the same money (as their former roles)," he said.
"The workload has doubled for some positions and some staff have taken voluntary redundancy because they know they won't survive the workload. They are getting the hell out of there and we are losing staff who have been there between 20 and 30 years. All that experience is gone so who will pick up the jobs for those who go above and beyond?"
Mr Jay said these positions included allied health managers, general managers and people in human resources, among other sectors.
The Union claimed there was no system in place or coordination to ensure that work performed in former roles would be picked up in the new structure.
"Mark my words, this will impact patient care in a huge way," he said.
"The feedback is that it's a dog's breakfast, an absolute shemozzle and no one knows who to report to or what's going on."
The HSU mounted a dispute in the Industrial Relations Commission in September. In October, the Commission ordered both parties to hold union specific consultative discussions, as the HSU argued the Health District had originally promised.
Mr Jay said the IRC action was ongoing and both parties would again front the Commission on February 1 to check on the progress of consultation.
"There is utter confusion (among staff) at the moment," he told The Post.
"There's a very negative mood and a lot of anxiety because there is no clear and transparent way forward for those affected."
The Post requested comment from the Health District but this was not forthcoming by the time of publication.
However, Ms Bennett has previously defended the level of consultation and said there would be no impact on patient care.
In addition, she said the changes would establish leadership in structured roles, something she believed needed to be addressed.
The restructure created 27 new positions, including directorships in obstetrics, anaesthetics, emergency and other medical categories.
Ms Bennett had hoped to have the restructure in place by the end of 2020 but recruitment for some roles was expected to go into this year.
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