Australian Clinical Labs (Crescent Capital Partners) recently featured in the Geelong Advertiser as news of their buying up St John of God’s became more widespread. Unfortunately, St John of God and Australian Clinical Labs have not been up-front with the community about the prospect of job losses and the impact this will have on health services offered through St John of God.
It was remarkable to read the claims by St John of God and Clinical Labs that there wouldn’t be job losses to then have to come clean after the Union blew the whistle on the deal involving up to 200 job losses. While Clinical Labs has committed to offering jobs to all but 8 current St John of God staff it is clear that Clinical Labs intends to cut as many as 200 jobs as soon as 12 months after taking over St John of God operations. Clinical Labs is yet to clarify what changes could possibly justify this level of cuts, particularly given that St John of God has recently implemented very significant operational changes that have cut the pathology workforce to the ‘bone’.
The biggest fear is that Clinical Labs is planning to adopt the Dorevitch playbook by transferring testing out of the Barwon and other regional public sector laboratories to its central laboratory in Melbourne. This strategy of centralising testing is always used to justify job cuts, and always results in pathology quality standards being seriously reduced.
We are hearing the same rhetoric from St John of God and Clinical Labs as we’ve heard from other health services and Dorevitch that pathology quality standards will be maintained. Despite such promises in the past, there is a clear strategy with contracted pathology services to reduce operating costs through cutting jobs, primarily, and by making savings in other areas of expenditure.
The undeniable truth of this pathology model is that jobs are lost and quality, especially through turnaround times, is significantly reduced.
The jobs that are foreshadowed to be cut are not jobs that Clinical Labs ‘owns’ after its acquisition of St John of God. These are effectively public health sector jobs that should not be treated as a commodity to be bought and discarded in the interests of increasing profit or ‘equity’.
The MSAV is maintaining its pressure to get answers from St John of God and Clinical Labs.
Just as importantly we are taking our concerns to the State Government and the board of Barwon Health, both of which have an absolute responsibility to protect local jobs and maintain pathology quality standards. It is essential that the current pathology services contract standards are rigidly enforced to ensure the pathology service for Barwon Health, and the greater Geelong community, is delivered at the quality standards necessary to ensure health care standards are not compromised.
This issue is especially important as the decision by St John of God isn’t one that impacts just one hospital. The sale of St John of God also has massive implications for all public health services in in north central and western Victoria in which St John of God current has pathology services contracts.
To make our case even stronger we will need your help.
You can help raise concerns about the future of 200 jobs and local pathology services within the Barwon Health and other public health services by contacting your local Member of Parliament and members of the Barwon Health board.
Get details on how you can help raise concerns about the future of public pathology at: http://msav.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/160715-SJoG-Pathology-Call-your-MP.pdf