MORE than 50 fully-funded community health care positions have yet to be filled with the Northern NSW Local Health Network, The Northern Star can reveal.
Documents show many of these positions, ranging from community and child care nurses to physiotherapists, are listed as high priority.
Byron Shire Nurses’ Association president David Hughes said even though many of the positions were classified as ‘high priority’ they had not been advertised as this allowed the network to reduce its staffing costs.
“They are usually not advertised.
"They are trapped in the approval-to-advertise line which can take six months,” he said.
A Health Network spokesperson said it ‘keeps a tight control on its staffing levels so that these are maintained within targeted levels’.
“There are more allied health positions than quoted under active recruitment.
"Not all positions placed on eRecruit are actually ready to be advertised.
“Priority is given to acute hospital positions and positions in its alternative to admission and Hospital in the Home Services.”
Mr Hughes said the failure to fill the staffing gaps within the community sector were placing additional demand on scarce and expensive hospital services.
“Everybody has been talking about the importance of primary health care, but what they haven’t done is provide the resources and support for that,” he said.
“Not only have they not done that, but they have continually and constantly bled our resources to the point we now have fewer staff than we did a decade ago.”
Mr Hughes said this was despite a huge jump in demand as people moved to the area, particularly ageing baby boomers in need of health services.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.