$100,000 for NCAHS spin doctor

NORTH Coast Area Health will employ a public relations person on a six-figure salary to rebuild its image in the community as it continues to slash 400 positions from hospitals across the region.

The full-time position of a Caring Together Liaison Officer, which is advertised on the health services internal intranet site, offers the successful candidate between $88,048 and $100,375 annually.

Part of the job description is to ‘develop effective communications strategies for NCAHS in relation to major or contentious issues, promotional campaigns and community concerns’.

The person will also prepare press releases, answer media questions, as well as generally brief the media.

In November last year, the State Government announced it would slash $200 million from the health budget, including $30 million from North Coast Area Health.

North Coast Area Health chief executive Chris Crawford has found the savings through the ‘deletion’ of 400 health jobs, including the retrenchment of Lismore Base Hospital chaplain Ivan Dehnert, who will comfort his last patient tomorrow.

About 300 positions have already gone from North Coast hospitals, with the final round imminent.

Documents obtained by The Northern Star in May revealed the extent of the cuts, with nursing positions lost across surgical, medical, maternity and renal wards, as well as Directors of Nursing, physiotherapists and wardsmen.

NSW Nurses’ Association Lismore Base Hospital branch secretary Gil Wilson yesterday said the creation of the new liaison position would leave a bad taste with staff.

“It seems hypocritical and ironic that the area health service would create a $100,000 management position when they are in such a slash and burn mentality, where every cent of expenditure is being examined under the microscope and positions are being deleted,” he said.

Dr Chris Ingall, media liaison officer for the Medical Staff Council at Lismore Base Hospital, accused the area health service of being more concerned with its image than patient care.

“It’s about managing their image, not about frontline services,” he said.

An area health spokesperson said the liaison officer would help implement the Caring Together plan, which was the Government’s response to the Garling Report into the NSW health system.

“The Caring Together Liaison Officer will work directly with frontline staff, facilitating the implementation of the Caring Together recommendations, as well as ensuring this progress is communicated to NCAHS staff and the community,” the spokesperson said.

The Government has accepted 135 of the Garling Report’s 139 recommendations

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