Registered Nurse Rebecca Moak poses for a photo in trauma center of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013. Reuters/Jonathan Bachman

The West Australian government verified that 1,163 full-time hospital jobs will be cut in the South Metropolitan Health Service. In an attempt to improve the state's inefficient health system, WA Health Minister Kim Hames announced on Jan. 3 that the job cuts are needed to sustain the government’s expenditure.

“The reality is that we are not as efficient in managing our system as [other states] are,” Hames said. The health minister also stated that WA’s cost per patient rate is 14 percent above the national average, the second highest cost per patient rate in the country, with nurses earning up to 15 percent more than what nurses earn in Victoria.

Hames also noted that 250 voluntary redundancies would be offered within Perth's South Metropolitan Health Service, while the majority of job cuts would come from adjusting the healthcare roster. More than 290 jobs are expected to go from the new Fiona Stanley Hospital, while 570 jobs will be cut from the Royal Perth. Overall, the government will lay off 637 non-clinical jobs plus 526 clinical service roles.

The Guardian reports that the opposition’s health spokesman, Roger Cook, claims these job cuts would mean patients and workers are forced to bear the impact of the state’s financial problems. Cook adds that budget cuts would also lead to patients waiting longer for care and the worsening of ambulance queues. In other words, health services in WA will suffer.

“The minister is being a little bit dishonest here if we’re talking about 1,100 FTE [full-time equivalent]. If all of them are delivered, that might mean 2,000 or 3,000 people lose their jobs or have their hours cut,” the WA Medical Association president, Michael Gannon, added. “These are serious cuts, serious insecurity and instability for thousands of West Australians and, just as importantly, it means a cut to clinical services.”

Gannon remarked that Hames was wrong to make direct comparisons to other states, because health services are more expensive in WA. Gannon acknowledged that WA medical workers were well paid but the government needs to be more transparent in decisions regarding jobs in the health system.

WA’s health sector accounts for more than 28 percent of the state expenditure. Hames claimed that without making significant changes to operation costs, this would affect other areas including education and policing.