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Local jobs "safe"

Monday, 9th May, 2011

by Gina Wilson

Far West Health District staff were expected to keep their jobs despite the NSW Health Minister undertaking a review of positions.

In introducing amendments to the Health Services Act on Thursday, Jillian Skinner said she would review appointments made to governing councils, which she also renamed Health District Boards.

"I will undertake a review of the existing council appointments to assure myself that each board does, in fact, have the appropriate mix of skills in its membership, and where I am satisfied that this is the case I will confirm existing members in positions on the new boards," Mrs Skinner said.

Before the announcement it was rumoured that the Coalition Government would use the reform to dump Labor-appointed governing council members.

But Mrs Skinner said she did not envisage "massive" change in board membership and said any changes would be made in consultation with locals.

"I look forward to my conversation with chairs of the current networks and others in those local communities to make sure that we have the right skills on those boards."

She also said existing members would not have to reapply for their positions.

Local MP John Williams supported the move saying people had viewed the removal of local area health boards as a big negative for health services, especially in the bush.

"The contribution made by the people who served on these boards allowed people in the communities to feel they had ownership of their health facilities, giving them a say in the process of administering health in their community," Mr Williams said.

"It allowed these people to identify shortfalls in services and gave them the opportunity to improve the level of services that they received."

Other changes brought in this week by Minister Skinner include renaming the state's 15 local health networks as health districts and promising to look at boundaries.

The Far West Health District takes in Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Menindee, Tibooburra, Ivanhoe, Wentworth and Balranald.

"I expect that there might be some tweaking or minor changes, but if that is the case there will be wide consultation with local communities and clinicians," Mrs Skinner said.

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