Monday 3 August 2009

Queensland Premier orders massive health staff cuts

In the last 24 hours, it is understood that the Queensland Premier and her Health Minister, Hon Paul Lucas, has ordered all hospital heads find staff cuts up to 10%.

The shock dictum was sent around late on Friday. The message has been leaked out over the weekend to some key health staff in Cairns.

"I've hardly slept all weekend," a health professional told CairnsBlog, who wished to remain anonymous.

"This is devastating news. We don't know who will be affected," she said.

It is understood that the order states Hospital chiefs are asked to find cuts between 5% - 10%, and report back with what action they will be taking.

Most managers are in "acting" positions providing little stability. They say it's not a pleasant working environment.

Many believe that Queensland Health is not conducive to good management. They say it''s almost impossible to find out on a computer system how many ICU beds are available in Cairns, as there's no integrated IT system.

A health business consultant said three years ago, that there was 25 different accounting systems in Queensland Health.

"This State Labor government is out of control," a party faithful told CairnsBlog. "We've been members for years but now they're backing privatisation, and further cutting front-line health staff.".

Another Health staffer at Cairns Base Hospital said how they were so under-resourced.

"We've been asking for more staff to carry out basic necessities, and it takes forever to get anything approved. The senior managers are paid big money, and they're simply not delivering nor accountable," the Cairns Hospital staffer said.

When you talk to many in Queensland Health around Cairns, they often say that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

It's amazing that a patient in need of urgent medical attention is flown from Atherton, to Cairns to Townsville, then onto Mackay, without any prior knowledge of bed availability at each hospital..

"They wouldn't probably even have a computerised database to show if there was availability. It always amazes me that almost every other day at Queensland Health I turn up for work and hear of another bungle and ill-thought through decision," a Cairns health worker said.

The latest health staff cuts order, could affect many positions in and around Cairns at Health facilities. Temporary or contract roles would probably be the first to go.

The edict comes on the back of a massive debt that has haunted the Queensland Labor Government for some years, estimated to be $85 billion by 2011. In the last three months, consumer charges have increased for power supply, vehicle registration, and water supply. The fuel levy was also removed, and from the first July, under the Local Government Act, Councils can charge 25% more on most of their charges and penalties.

Over the weekend, it was revealed that Queensland Health has created a new level of senior bureaucracy costing $1.5 million annually, about to employ nine new directors to head "people and culture" units.


allied stealth said...

Wow this is a huge story , after making calls to friends involved at major hospitals , I can confirm your story mike , staff heads were told last week to to trim staff up to 10% in their departments.
The labor government has run out of money to continue present levels of staffing , there will be substantial losses in all queensland hospitals.
It is not known at what level they will trim , but I believe it is at the floor level .

nocturnal congress said...

Those cuts would be pretty bloody easy if the Queensland Government put up road blocks etc and stopped the mexicans from pouring into Queensland. Cairns Base Hospital would be able to function if it didn't have to deal with HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of tourists and itinerants each year. If you want an adequate health system, it is simple. PUT THE SKIDS ON the tourists and mexicans who are overloading the system.

Thaddeus said...

There needs to be better management of population shifts at the Government level. We might be a "free" country wherein people can up and relocate wherever and whenever they like, but I fear we can no longer afford this freedom. Certainly Cairns with its floating population of itinerants and lemming like migration from the South, cannot cope any longer. Some controls will have to be put in place.

Disgruntled said...

I find it very strange that an email went out demanding that Health Service District Managers cut staff by 10% when Corporate Office announced last week, 6 new Senior Executives (another layer of management)in public health!

Not to mention all the money that is wasted on coffee machines for administrative staff, hot take out food, lounges for when the dears are feeling a little tired.
Whilst these things are not illegal I am told, they are morally wrong, when patients are not getting treatment they need and staff do not have resources at the coalface of the health system.

Serious changes need to be made, oh and as for the bullying and intimindation issues, still rife. Innappropriate behaviour at work is another ugly trend, anything from time fraud, inappropritate and purely unprofessional behavuiyr or comments ie sexual harrassement are becoming the NORM in QH, and people are getting away with it.

No accountability, no responsibility, no commonsense, failure to adhere to policy and procedure, wasting money, fraud, you name it,its going on.

I acutally feel sick going to work everyday, because everyday, there is something going on that should not be going on!!

Syd Walker said...

Could this be another email forged by the infamous Gordon Grech?

Alison Alloway said...

I am sorry to hear that "Disgruntled". I know what it is like to be bullied and abused by senior management, particularly when you do something absolutely EVIL, like save the life of an elderly man (which I did). The bullying and abusive episode was traumatic for me, focussing as it did, on the issue of sanctity of life itself and our strongest moral value. I guess I will never forget that there are people out there who put their own egos above the life of another human being. "TO NO PERSON, DO HARM". Simple enough, isn't it!

Alison Alloway said...

Disgruntled, these things...bullying, abuse, lack of accountability etc are happening everywhere, not just in Queensland Health. The whole field of "Human Resource Management" needs a good shake-up. There has already been considerable discussion on this blogsite for example of the rise and rise of sociopaths in our workplaces. As a leading psychologist said recently, "The sociopath is doing very nicely in todays workforce, thank you all very much!"

Paul said...

Actually we do have a bed management system that is accurate, and current to the second. Its called the telephone. People forget its there because the IT nerds want everyone looking at their computer programs instead.

Al said...

The problem with any bed management system is that, whilst you are on the helicopter heading for that vacant bed several hours away, a major RTA (or two) may occur more locally and the bed situation there becomes negative. What then; helicopter ramping?

Thaddeus said...

Yes indeed Paul, and like everywhere else, the role of IT is burgeoning as IT Executives build up empires, at the direct expense of old fashioned (and often faster as you pointed out) methods. There is of course another problem here, the lack of plain commonsense.

allied stealth said...

I think about the human cost of the up to 10% of staff cuts being asked for in our hospitals , and the sell off of our states assets will have on people struggling now ?
Also the effect on our four local members of government.
It appears a clean sweep for the opposition at the next election , also my spies tell me the union factions are looking for a replacement as we speak for anna sligh !

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

Ah CBD - just woken up from your post-vitriol sleep? Lovely to hear from you again. Did you actually read what these hard-working people said above?

And CBD, Victoria apparently has a stunning current health care system, & it's Labor. I have heard it from several people in the past year.

But quite frankly, at this point in history, I'm over Liberal/Labor/Greens/Swineflu/Sarah Palin Party or whatever. I just want pollies who make the systems run, & bureaucrats who can do the same. With ethics, care and intelligence. [I'm a big fan of electing intelligent & appropriate independents in the future. Bugger the party system.]

The workers just seem to get on with it. And CBD, don't you dare charge these hardworking hospital people above with the term 'whingers' - they clean up wee, poo, vomit, hold in intestines where appropriate, stem gallons of blood, \ & if the health bloody system allows it, saves our lives & our sorry arses.

Anonymous said...

I hope Kevin gets to see the sorry state of our Base Hospital and put some stimulating cash up to fix it.
If the vitriol that oozes from CBD and his Right wing wanker friends was constructive that would warrant his self centered out bursts but sadly his rants just point back at him as being all piss and wind just like the barbers cat.

Urban Pacifist said...

CBD Warrior- get your head out of your arse! You call this a left wing blog? I'd hate to see what your idea of a conservative right whinger's blog would look like.

Constance Lloyd said...

Hey Urban Warrior!

If you want a right whinge blog, sorry right wing blog, check out

Mental Nurse said...

Howdy Doody "Jim Turnour" has announced he's arranged a meeting between KRudd and hospital staff on Friday.

Hardcore labor management is handpicking "supporters" instead of a cross-section, of workers to attend this meeting. Anyone with a history of complaints is being systematically excluded.

The most mismanaged unit, mental health, has NOT HAD ANY employees invited to the meetings.

Typical of the Labor governments - tell us what we want to hear! Someone should get up and finally expose the Cairns Base Hospital "redevelopment" for what it is - the emperor's new clothes!

Whistle Blower said...

Yesterday's little gem working for QH.

To set the scene:

Staffer A - junior full time employeee

Staffer B - Senior Bureaucrat, full time, and on over $100,000 per year + perks.

Staffer C - colleage of A at same level, does similar job, full time.

Now instead of spotting the differences, spot the maladministrations and poor work behaviours...

Staffer A starts work at about 0830 every day, has 1 hr for lunch, knocks off work at 1630. Somehow with these hours, racks up Rostered days off every month, takes one Monday last, but does not tell anyone in the Unit.

Soon Staffer A is going to a capital city for a health related course, fully paid by QH (flights and accommodation), but not one related to their current job.

Other staff have complained to Staffer B about Staffer A's time fraud, but B has failed to take action. Staffer B is often not at work either.

Staffer C is going on annual leave and whilst away, one important job must be done. Staffer C asks staffer A if they wouldn't mind doing it.

Staffer A argues that job X is in Staffer C's job description therefore - get lost.

Team leader's response to this, "well if job cannot be done, it will just have to wait".

Staffer A spent most of the day yesterday on the phone talking about a wedding.

Only in QH!!!!!!!

QH is too top heavy with senior administrative managers earning large sums of money, who are not "managing staff or resources well" and our hospitals and patients are suffering for it!

Alison Alloway said...

Having been a veteran of the public service, both Federal and State, the above situation doesn't surprise me. It is par for courses.
The Public Service culture was killed during the 1980s when promotion based on this nebulous thing called "merit" replaced promotion based on work experience. Work environments instantly became "competititve" instead of "co-operative" and fawning, obsequious behaviour became entrenched. "It's not what you know, it's who you know!" Sociopathic managers were allowed to "parachute" in, armed with Business Degrees rather than having clearly demonstrated working knowledge, ethics and integrity and having earned the respect of workers. HRM people don't know how to screen out sociopaths (and it probably isn't part of their training anyway.)
These changes in the 1980s have allowed the public services to corrupt with many work environments now completely toxic with entrenched bullying, incompetence, suspicion and falling client service.
It certainly isn't unique to Queensland Health.
(Incidentally in Canada, investigation teams now carry out thorough background research, going back to childhood, talking to neighbours, school teachers, school friends etc, before hiring top public health officials.....why? To weed out sociopaths, as they tend to leave distinctive telltale tracks behind them in childhood.) Interesting, isn't it???!!!!

Thornton On Spence said...

Just when you think it's safe to get out on the streets again and then CBD Warrior resurfaces with another of his mind numbing statements. He needs to join his ultra right wing buddy Lance T Royce and they can once again participate in mutual masturbation.
CBD is such a jerk that only he could make the sweeping statement about us being Labour Voters when there are so many of the contributors who are paid up Liberal Party Members. I hate the Labour Party and all it stands for but there are good and bad in every political party. Unfortunately we have that Tosser Alan Blake associated with us as a Liberal. The only thing Liberal about him is his sexual desires.

Constance Lloyd said...


You are completely on the mark.

This ole gal is also a member of the LNP who is disgusted at the antics of Alan Blake.

As for his liberality with regards to sexual desires, I would have to disgaree with you. To sucessfully bed the snake you need to be female, younger than him, buxom, and blonde, thus making his increasingly aged and wrinkled frame appear "attractive" as a sexual animal.

Not to these eyes very liberal; quite restrictive really and very very pathetic.

Thornton On Spence said...

At the risk of disagreeing with you I think it might be the other way round and the Snake does all the bedding. Although he has the reputation for liking young pretty girls he has also grabbed some Grannies from the Casino. One right in front of me when his last floosie who saw through him was out of town.

Jan from Kewarra said...

Another Queensland Health story - a friend whose husband is waiting a cardiac stent operation in Townsville and is booked for 17th August.

Last Monday, they were out shopping, got home around mid day and the phone was ringing. It was the hospital to say that if they could get there by 0800 Tuesday, they could do the procedure, the next day.

The husband answered the phone and told the caller that it was impossible for them to get frm Cns to Townsville by 8am the following day.

The expectation from Townsville was quite unrealistic.

ie. telling a sick 68yr old cardiac patient, that he has to hurry or panic to get to a city 400klm, find accommodation for his wife for 3 nights, pack and drive for 5 hours. They are public patients and therefore, have to drive as opposed to fly.

Once he got off the phone, he was worried sick, because he had knocked back the spot on the operating list & was then concerned that his slot on the 17 would be lost. His wife, after he went to lie down and recoup from the stress, rang the hospital back to confirm that his bed was still available - it was!

Thaddeus said...

Frankly, I'm a bit tired of all this casting stones at Blake. What he does in his private life is his own business. There wouldn't be just the one Lothario lurking in the LNP or ALP for that matter. Harold Holt was a renown womaniser, ditto Bob Hawke and it didn't affect their careers. There are worse things a person can do.

Anonymous said...

Here here Thaddeus.
I'm all for womanizing I love it. Context is everything though and if Blake and Hull's actions are devious and cause such serious ramifications within our local government then they are under scrutiny by those who are affected which includes all rate payers and residents of CRC.

What this has to do with QLD health eludes me though.
Maybe Mike can post a continual discussion topic along the lines of " Blakey's Affairs" I bet there's some interesting Debate on that topic!

Guido the Plumber said...

Bill Bixby, you are so funny I nearly fell out of my chair at your suggestion that Mike should have a standing topic 'BLAKEY'S AFFAIRS'

Afterall as a hard working Councillor, based on mobile texting during Council meetings, he does deserve a topic named after him.

What do other bloggers think?

Sir Humphrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Humphrey said...

Dear Nocturnal & Thaddeus,

so next time I fly to Sydney (or any australian town) and have an accident the justified response(according to you two) should be "sorry old son but you can go back to your own understaffed regional hospital and get treated eh?" what rubbish, wake up you plonkers.
The level of disgraceful disorganisation in the civil serv ice is well documented and a couple of the above posts obviously speak from experience. One thing one can definitely say about Lab vs Lib - Libs may be hard arsed economic buggers but labor has NEVER in any country been able to
1/. Keep a budget,
2/. Manage its staff

and for all of its hype about workers first the labor party quite frankly has a terrible track record as an employer. The culture of secrecy and this dreadful cronyism is just so corrosive that morale is constantly plummeting. But the staggering logic of a 10% cut in staff in a growing population area with an increase of senior management does warm the cockles of an old civil servants heart.

As for bagging blakey it should be considered right of passage for this blog!

Whistle Blower from afar said...

Yesterday's gem from Queensland Health.

To set the scene:

Staffer D: senior mental health worker, full time

Staffers E and F: colleagues of D, but both subordinates, both work full time and shift work.

This week, Staffers E and F were working a late shift and had just been called over the the Emergency Department to assess patients with mental health issues. They returned to their offices at 9pm. The phone was ringing.

Staffer E picks up the phone. It was their boss, (Staffer D), who wanted to know if they could hop in a car, drive out to the beaches (whilst still on duty), and pop into a Bottle-O on the way and drop off some grog. Staffer E says No and gave the excuse that they were too busy.

About half an hour later, the phone rings again, and this time, Staffer F picks up the phone, and guess who it is???? Yep, Staffer D again, asking for the same thing.

When staffer F says "No", Staffer D asks if Staffer E had the shits with them because they had knocked back some training request the week before.

Only in Queensland Health!

These kinds of stories get more and more bizaree every day, and everyday, I hear of at least one!

I think Alison Alloway is correct, that these government depts are now full of "sociopaths" - Unconcerned about the adverse consequences for others of one's actions.
Retrieved from ""

The example above clearly demonstrates this type of behaviour.

PS Staffers E and F are too frightened for their jobs to take the matter further, and this seems to be a common thread. Others do not want to risk their own employment, despite the Whistle Blower's Act.

Alison Alloway said...

Whistle Blower from Afar - I do sympathise with you and Staffers E & F. It is extremely difficult for normal people, people who are dedicated, conscientitious, empathic, honest etc to work with those who are not. We have been socialised to care for people. We have feelings, we can feel the pain of others, we are distressed when we see other people suffer. Sociopaths do not.
Sociopathic people understand the psychology of "normal" people, ie that we have a CONSCIENCE and we care for others, and they ruthlessly exploit this. Often in these environments, it is also difficult to counter the bad behaviours of the sociopathic person because they know how to "divide and rule". Amongst the subordinate staff would be some weak and unprincipled individuals the sociopath has flattered and cultivated to tell tales etc.

Sociopaths know how to sell themselves, they spend time and effort cultivating people OF USE to them. They are expert in "kissing up and kicking down". They are expert liars and ruthless when challenged.
They are thriving in todays modern workforce largely because of the ignorance of the general population and todays trend in judging people on superficial traits. And as I have said before, they can now "parachute" into an organisation armed with "Business Degrees" (which of course does not mean mental stability!!)
A word of warning Whistle Blower from Afar...never challenge a sociopath about their lack of normality unless you have the backup of a large number of people. Be very careful if you suspect you are working with one, as to who you pass on your suspicions.
Finally, the only recommendation I can give to people who are unfortunate enough to be working with a sociopathic boss, is to try and change jobs or transfer out.
The sociopaths lack of normal feelings and conscience is terrifying and they can and will do the unspeakable without remorse.
Hence, your only option is to "look after Number One" and get the hell out.
I wish there was another option, but it will take time and education for politicians, universities, HRM personnel,and the general community to change their perception of sociopaths from a fiendish looking, mass killer armed with a blood soaked axe, to a smiling, charming, articulate good looking individual, "the snake in a suit".