Saturday, December 19, 2009

Prudent hospital management

As pressure mounts on State Governments to keep the cost of healthcare in line with budget expectations an increasing number of hospitals are reporting efforts to rein in costs. ( Many are electing to reduce staff numbers. The concern with this approach is that any gains are short term. Simply making staff redundant might satisfy short term expectations yet fail to resolve the underlying issue. At the same time making staff redundant without addressing other areas of waste can serve to destroy moral and loyalty.

Tough times call for effective leadership. Not only the type of leadership that is able to make the hard decisions when they are required but leadership also able to ensure the highest level of communication throughout an organisation. The greatest concern for staff is when decisions affecting their work conditions are made without consultation and with full understanding of the need for change and the benefits.

Gone are the days where those employed in our public hospitals can expect Government's to simply bail-out a hospital management that spends more than its allocated revenue. Access to affordable, if not free healthcare should be a right of everyone, regardless of their situation; yet universal health care has a cost, funding is via taxation. Such funding will always be a finite source even while the cost of providing health care continues to escalate.

Reducing staff numbers without addressing workplace design issues can be seen as poor leadership, where managers make expedient decisions without having the courage to dig deeper and work to address core issues. On the flip side, the health sector is a political system bound by traditional and established rules of engagement between managers and unions. The future will require leadership, and a willingness to have another look at workplace practices by both parties as the sector struggles to attract and retain people. Failure of leadership can only result in increased efforts of management to keep costs down by reducing staff numbers.

Let The Journey Continue
John Coxon

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