A leaked email has revealed a move to cut staff as part of restructuring at the $9million over budget South East Regional Hospital.
The email contained a document revealing the hospital's operational and recovery plan, put together by healthcare consultancy firm Studer Group.
This appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to a short-term budget problem.Health Services Union NSW secretary Gerard Hayes
The presentation, which was reportedly shown to Southern NSW Health District staff last week, outlines a plan for both the health district and the hospital, including a move to cut 34.67 full-time roles during the next financial year.
Health Services Union NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said he is "extremely concerned" about the proposed restructure and "the lack of detail around the planned job cuts".
"There is no way that cutting 34 full-time positions from the Southern NSW Health District can be done without having an impact on services," Mr Hayes said.
"This appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to a short-term budget problem.
"The Bega community has been through an incredible amount of pain and trauma over the past few months.
"Slashing health jobs is the last thing this community needs right now," he said.
The "Studer Group Program" says hospital costs must be reduced by $2million and revenue raised by $425,000 in 2020/21.
The hospital is reportedly $9million over budget, with a "consistently below target" emergency treatment performance rate of 73.35 per cent and elective surgery access performance "behind on all targets".
The document reveals it is currently the second most expensive in the state behind Broken Hill, with the majority of specialists costing above the state funded price.
The Studer plan also outlines safety and quality issues and operational inefficiencies within the health district, which it says is also over budget, and reveals a "major turnaround" is needed over the next three years to help fix what is described as a $20million "issue" within the health district.
The Southern NSW Local Health District confirmed the proposed hospital management restructures on Tuesday, adding it will investigate "the global telehealth revolution and other new technologies", and better management of stock and inventory".
It said it will continue "full and open discussions" with its workforce around how it "might implement any changes to provide the best possible service and experience" for patients.
"Southern NSW Local Health District is committed to providing high quality care to the community. By eliminating inefficiencies, waste, misuse or underuse, any cost savings can be reinvested into our health services," the spokesperson said.
"To this end, SNSWLHD has sought ideas and feedback from staff and unions about how we might work smarter. For example, SNSWLHD is looking at how it can increase permanent recruitment to reduce reliance on casual and agency staff."
The Studer plan also outlines a need for health district cultural change, via an evidence-based leadership framework, which will involve a move to "re-recruit high and middle performers" and "move low performers up or out".
An independent review into the operation and management of the hospital was initiated by then NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard in 2017, and spurred by community and staff concerns around the hospital's culture of bullying.
The 33-page report by Associate Professor Michael Reid and neurosurgeon Dr Adrian Nowitze found "an unacceptable level of bullying and harassment which requires rectification".
NSW Health deputy secretary Susan Pearce said at the time, while surgery wait times and overdue patient number were reducing, the report found issues with the hospital's culture, leadership and clinical governance.
The first phase of the Studer plan will be initiated in October this year, and it is planned to be fully implemented by December, the document states.
Highlighted areas of concern involve the need to adjust the executive structure, changing to an inhouse audit model for performance and "resetting" the leadership team.
"The 2019-20 budget for Southern New South Wales is $434 million, this is an increase of $13 million on the previous financial year's annualised budget," the health district said.
"Between mid-2012 and mid 2019 SNSWLHD increased its workforce by an additional 467 full time equivalent staff - including 49 more doctors, 158 more nurses and midwives, and 68 more allied health staff."