Budget documents show that the workforce in the public health and welfare sector, excluding the ambulance service, will drop from 33,313 in June 2021 to 31,449 in June 2024 – a loss of 1,864 jobs.
It is expected to increase slightly again to reach 31,534 in June 2025.
Treasurer Rob Lucas said there would still be nearly 1,000 more jobs than in the Labor Party’s last budget in 2018, which had 30,619 healthcare workers.
Unions and the state opposition are demanding to know which jobs will be cut over the next two and a half years – prompting the Prime Minister to accuse Labor of “sowing fear”.
Australian Federation of Nurses and Midwives Secretary of State Elizabeth Dabars said “in the current situation you cannot lose a single person”.
“At a time when our healthcare workers are tired and overworked, the Marshall government needs to explain what jobs need to be cut from our healthcare system,” Dabars said.
“What we would like to ask is transparency and that they identify very clearly what, if anything, frontline workers are proposing to lose and why that is the case.
“I suspect they would say these are potentially linked to COVID. But that’s the point. Are they actually related to COVID or is there some other plan or concept that we are not aware of?
“They really need to be transparent about their plans.”
SA Salaried Medical Officers Association industrial director Bernadette Mulholland said SA hospitals were already understaffed compared to the rest of the country.
“The truth is that there is a lack of resources and the decisions of the government have put us in this position,” she said.
“Southern Australians deserve a well-resourced public hospital system. “
Mulholland said SASMOA had calculated that South African hospitals would need to employ nearly 5,000 additional workers “to meet the national average.”
“Any future government, after the next state elections, must commit to providing our public hospitals with the same resources as other states in terms of staff, funding and beds,” she said.
“This must be the priority of the next elections.
“If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need a well-resourced public health system for the South African community. The focus should be on patient care, not on budget cuts.
Opposition health spokesman Chris Picton said the job cuts were “buried in” the government’s mid-year budget review.
“What this indicates in black and white is that this government is planning a reduction of 1,864 employees at SA Health over the next two and a half years,” he said.
“As borders open, why this government thinks it’s a good idea to cut 1,800 employees over two and a half years is absolutely shocking to South Australians.
Picton said that “even more shocking” was that the cuts would begin “within the next seven months”.
“The government is making it clear in the budget documents that by the middle of next year – in just seven months – there will be a reduction of 600 employees…” he said.
The document shows that the number of employees is expected to increase from 33,313 in June of this year to 32,682 in June of next year.
“It’s very different from the TV commercials they’re showing right now,” Picton said.
“We have taxpayer funded ads telling people they are hiring 1,900 healthcare people. At the same time, their own budget documents say they are cutting 1,864 employees.
“We know at the moment that we are facing an absolute crisis in our hospitals and that is with only a very small number of COVID patients in our hospital system. “
Treasurer Rob Lucas said Daily the jobs to be cut were additional temporary staff hired to help the state deal with COVID, such as in vaccination and testing clinics and quarantine facilities.
“There is certainly a significant reduction in the increase in employment that we have created as a result of COVID,” he said.
“At the end of the forward-looking estimate period, we will still have almost 1,000 full-time equivalents more than the workforce employed in health and wellness.
“But during the pandemic … we had to employ people in vaccination clinics, quarantine staff, all the extra staff we had to put in because of COVID … we had to deal with the COVID outbreak for a few years. . .
“As COVID ends, these people who are under contract or who were temporary employees, all these kinds of people no longer have permanent jobs, but we still have almost 1,000 more than in the last budget of the Plowing. “
Prime Minister Steven Marshall said Labor was “alarmist” and “undermining people’s trust in SA Health”.
“As people know, take a look at what the Auditor General has to say – last year more than 1,000 additional healthcare professionals were recruited in South Australia,” he said.
“More recently, we announced a recruit from 1920.
“You would have seen yesterday during the mid-year budget review another very significant increase in health spending, eight more doctors in the emergency department of the hospital for women and children, continuing to step up our support to the department. ambulance service in South Africa. with the recruiting underway as we speak there, a very substantial increase in our staffing for the COVID response, whether with our fantastic SA health workers or of course the SA police.
“When we got into government, I’ll tell you what the health care budget was – $ 5.8 billion. It is now $ 7.4 billion.
Additional Reports – Stephanie Richards
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