Health Authority to save millions through attrition, vacancies: CEO
The CEO of Labrador-Grenfell Health (LGH) says employees need not worry about layoffs, after a recent announcement regarding operational improvement initiatives.
In a press conference held on Oct. 3, Tony Wakeham outlined a myriad of ways in which the health authority will be able to save upwards of $12 million in operational costs - and it will not come at the expense of people's jobs, he said.
He noted the aim is to reduce LGH’s workforce by 119 Full Time Equivalents (FTE's), of which 78 have already been achieved.
“These savings will be achieved through the vacancies or attrition,” explained Wakeham on Thursday. “This means that as people retire, or move on to other employment, their positions will not be filled. Also, it will be achieved through the elimination of non-core hours – those over and above regular hours, such as overtime, relief and callbacks.
Wakeham said the LGH has been rolling out operational improvement initiatives for the last number of months, and said the authority has already realized $9 million in savings through the process.
“This has been done from the bottom up,” he said. “The Department (of Health and Community Services) didn't come to us, asking it be done this way; rather, we went to them with this way to save money.”
Wakeham added they have to assure the Department – and the LGH Authority – that they are spending their money as efficiently and effectively as possible.
He added his own office has also been a part of the process, noting the 2.5 communication positions for LGH has been reduced to just one, and when his own executive secretary retired, her position was not filled.
“This gives us an opportunity to re-evaluate, not to layoff (people),” he said.
Wakeham said when the roll out for improvements started, all departments were evaluated and ways in which to save money were identified. He said LGH also reviewed and did comparison studies with their peers from right across the country to see how they stacked up.
“We found that in nursing and in-patients, we were spending 25% more than our peers, to do the same amount of work,” noted Wakeham.
“We were 40% above in IT, administration and other related departments, and we were 33% above in diagnostics. We had to ask ourselves, what were we doing to spend that money?”
Wakeham said said all hospitals, community clinics and regional health centres under LGH were assessed individually to determine where savings could be made.
He said some savings were realized by actually expanding services.
“Our hospitals have an emergency department open 24-7,” said Wakeham. “There are times when a patient needs bloodwork completed after the lab is closed for the day, which means we would have to call back a lab tech. Their work might take 15 minutes, but we have to pay 4.5 hours overtime. If this happens two or three times after hours, a few times a week, it can add up.”
Wakeham said by making changes to some facilities – such as expanding lab hours from 4 p.m. - 12 midnight, for example – money has been saved in overtime costs.
Since the changes to the system over the last several months,Wakeham said, LGH has seen a 26% decrease in overtime; another 26% in orientation; 52% in minor equipment purchase (e.g. laptops, computers); and 33% in relief costs.
“These measures are based on need and will be far away from the front lines as we can,” noted Wakeham.
“We are not reducing our standards of care; our standards will be maintained, but we will find ways in which to be more effective and efficient.”