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Mrs ARMITAGE asked a question of the Leader of Government Business in the Legislative Council -

(1) How many employees are there currently employed with the Department of Health and Human Services - DHHS?

(2) How many current DHHS employees are not directly involved in patient care?

Mr PARKINSON replied -

(1) As at the pay period ending 17 September 2011, there were 11 929 people employed within the Department of Health and Human Services - the agency. According to the agency's 2010-11 annual report, 5 per cent of employees are in the department and corporate support operational units, with the remainder working in Health Services, Human Services and Children Services.

(2) The Department of Health and Human Services does not formally classify patient care and non-patient care staff within its workforce.

To make a formal distinction between these would in many cases be highly subjective. It is also unclear when the term 'patient care' is used whether areas such as child protection are intended to be covered.

All agency employees are responsible for delivering integrated services that maintain and improve the health and wellbeing of individual Tasmanians and the Tasmanian community as a whole. Working together we provide more than one-and-a-half million occasions of service annually to clients.

In many cases, a single staff member could well be fulfilling both a 'front-line' and non-front-line' role depending on the frame of reference - for example, a cleaner may well be considered non-front-line by some, but given the important role that cleaner's work plays in not only ensuring patients are protected from infection, but also in allowing other staff to provide quality health care to the public in a clean and healthy environment, a cleaner could well be considered to be very much a front-line worker by others.

In addition, a nurse who not only assists in direct patient care but also spends part of their sift filing necessary paperwork could also be seen as filling both front-line and non-front-line roles, depending on the viewpoint, even though both tasks are crucial for the provision of adequate and efficient health care.

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