Changes to work laws could make things worse in health: new report02 August 2005
Planned changes to work laws have been branded as a "recipe for conflict and division" in the health sector.
A new report also reveals that the Federal Government's proposals will not address the significant workforce problems in the Australian health system.
In fact "these reforms run the risk of reducing rather than increasing productivity if they result in work intensification, higher labour turnover and a loss of workforce morale".
The report is based on the work of a team including Dr Pauline Stanton, Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at the Graduate School of Management, La Trobe University.
"The Federal Government's proposed reforms stand to waste a lot of time, goodwill and do nothing to deal with the real issues of labour shortages and high labour turnover in the health sector, to say nothing of the quality of service provision," Dr Stanton said.
"The health sector is currently facing a number of key workforce problems, including rapid increases in technological innovation leading to constant demands for increased skills; an ageing workforce and local and international shortages of health care workers.
"The industrial relations reform package will do nothing to address these serious problems and may divert the focus of health system managers and policy makers from addressing the real workforce issues affecting the Australian health system.
"The reforms are not about productivity - the Australian health workforce is already very productive.
"These industrial relations changes overlook the complex challenges of cost containment and the effective management of the highly skilled health workforce and are not practical enough to address any of the key workforce problems facing the sector.
"There is also little evidence that they will improve the quality of people management in the public health sector.
"It is time to develop policy that is based on evidence and experience and can actually solve problems, rather than policy based on misplaced ideologies."
The report was published in the Australian Health Review, the policy journal of the Australian Healthcare Association, which is the peak body for public hospitals and public aged and community care services.
Health Services Union of Australia