Major Queensland Health cuts loom

Queensland Health workers are nervously awaiting news of their fate tomorrow, when the majority of job cuts affecting the department are expected to be announced.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, fronting the media this afternoon, was initially reluctant to confirm the cuts would be announced tomorrow, saying only the news was “not too far away”.

He said it was important to ensure affected people were made aware of their particular personal circumstances before a public announcement was made.

Mr Springborg said line managers would take to affected employees in a process that was “not all that far away”.

Asked whether this would occur tomorrow, Mr Springborg said: “It could be ... As I said it’s not too far away; I want those people to actually have the opportunity to be told by their line managers.”

Mr Springborg added: “I expect you will have a statement from me about this tomorrow.”

He also refused to confirm claims that some 4000 employees were set to lose their jobs, having previously declined to say whether such figures were in the ballpark.

Mr Springborg’s announcement is expected to focus on the corporate office.

He signalled newly established health and hospital boards would have to take their own responsibility for job cuts in their local districts.

Earlier this week, Townsville Hospital and Health Services board announced 130 full-time-equivalent positions would be cut, including 45 nursing jobs.

Other boards are set to make their own announcements.

Asked whether he would hide behind the hospital boards when job cuts were announced, Mr Springborg said he would not be “micromanaging” the boards, which had responsibility to manage budgets.

“It’s a whole new world which I understand a lot of people are trying to grapple with,” he said of the devolution of responsibility to health boards.

Mr Springborg fronted the media at the BreastScreen facilities at David Jones in the Brisbane CBD, where he announced millions of dollars recovered from an alleged Queensland Health fraudster would go into funding health programs, including $1 million extra for BreastScreen Queensland.

Earlier today, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has suggested the majority of public sector job cut news would be known by budget day next week.

Mr Newman, who has indicated no more than 15,000 public sector jobs would be cut, said the government would put “all the information out on budget day” on Tuesday.

However, he suggested speculation could continue for several more weeks as media worked their way through various stories.

Asked today whether the budget would mark the end of the job cuts, Mr Newman said: “It should do, in the main. That's what I've said, but the Queensland public service as an organisation that we're intending to make far more responsive to the needs of Queenslanders.”

Mr Newman confirmed the Public Sector Renewal Board – a body set up earlier this year to look for public service efficiencies – would continue to operate.

He did not envisage further job cuts. However, the governmentlast month announced a review of government, police and emergency aircraft services with outsourcing being a potential option. l

That review may not be settled until next year.

Mr Newman fronted the media at the Ozcare homeless centre at South Brisbane, launching SecondBite, a community organisation aiming to collect and redistribute fresh food to needy Queenslanders.

SecondBite chief executive Elaine Montegriffo said the organisation was seeking more food donors, adding there was huge demand for such services in Brisbane.

“Our realistic target for the current financial year is to collect and redistribute 300,000 kilograms of fresh food, which equates to 600,000 hearty nutritious 500 gram meals, and with more support we can increase this,” she said in a statement.

Speaking during the launch, Mr Newman said the government was committed to cutting the cost of living as it was one of the factors driving people towards needing food support.

“The biggest thing, ladies and gentlemen, we need to do is create jobs,” Mr Newman said of the food challenge.

“Shelter, food, a job are the critical components to advance all people.”

He later told reporters the high cost of living and taxes and charges were a result of the Bligh government “desperately trying to pay for their excessive spending”.

Mr Newman said he was sorry that people were “suffering as a result” of the job cuts.

He said although next week's budget would outline job cuts, it would also contain some positive news.

“Wait and see. I think it'll be a tough budget that will also have some great things in it that will perhaps surprise people,” he said.

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