Fears HealthShare tender will cost jobs

NOT TELLING: State Health Minister Jillian Skinner.AT least 35 Hunter jobs may be lost along with dozens more in regional NSW because of the state government’s plan to outsource the warehousing and distribution of medical supplies and equipment for the state’s hospitals.

Government-owned support services provider HealthShare manages about five large warehouses in the state, employing up to 150 people across the sites, which include Charlestown, Wagga and Orange.

However, the government has put the logistics operations and storage out to tender, a process that has been under way for more than a year.

It is believed the government favours a provider based in western Sydney.

The Health Services Union says the closure of the warehouses would be a big blow to regional communities, with between 35 and 50 jobs based at Charlestown, which supplies hospitals in most of northern NSW.

The government puts the number of positions at 35.

Union NSW/ACT secretary Gerard Hayes said the number of warehouses had already been reduced in recent years from about 17, leaving long supply chains that would get even longer if the remaining sites were closed.

‘‘There’s security aspects to these sorts of supplies too, as wellas the consistency of delivery,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a major shift to hand it over to the private sector.’’

He said the union had been shut out of the arrangements.

HealthShare had also tendered for the work, according to an internal newsletter.

State Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the process would be completed soon, but she would neither comment on the union’s concerns nor give an estimate of the savings the government expected to make.

‘‘The procurement process is still under way, with an announcement expected by mid-January 2015,’’ she said. ‘‘As the procurement process is ongoing, probity requirements mean it is not possible to comment on the content of any of the proposals submitted.’’