Queensland health is spending more on managerial and clerical staff than doctors.
Queensland health is spending more on managerial and clerical staff than doctors.

Sick state of Queensland Health staffing levels

QUEENSLAND Health employs twice as many pen-pushers as medical doctors - and will spend a record $24 million this year on spin doctors.

The state government's biggest department employs 18,146 managerial and clerical staff, compared to 9530 doctors.

And hospitals have hired administrative staff at a much faster rate than doctors and nurses over the past five years.

Total staff numbers increased by 5 per cent last financial year to 87,819 - including 33,054 nurses, 10,891 operational staff such as cleaners, and 11,527 professional and technical staff including physiotherapists and speech pathologists.

The number of administrative staff has soared 46 per cent over the past five years, an analysis of workforce data by The Sunday Mail reveals.

But doctor and nurse numbers have grown by less than one-third over the same period.

In addition to staff costs, the Health Department spent $137 million on consultants and contractors during 2017/18 - a nine per cent increase in 12 months, the latest annual report reveals.

Spending on communications and public relations will soar 20 per cent this financial year to a record $24 million.

"Almost all this budget is spent on behaviour change campaigns including immunisation, cancer screening, tobacco cessation and obesity,'' the department has told State Parliament in response to a question on notice from the Opposition.

Doctors and nurses are being outnumbered by administrative staff in Queensland.
Doctors and nurses are being outnumbered by administrative staff in Queensland.

"Queensland Health communications staff are focused on helping make Queenslanders healthier, helping them get the most out of the hospital and health system, and conveying information to doctors, nurses and other hardworking staff across the state.''

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates - a former nurse - slammed the spending yesterday.

"Instead of spending mountains of money on communications staff, Labor should be focusing on improving frontline services,'' she said.

"As a nurse, I'd like to see less spin and more action to fix Labor's health crisis.

"If Labor could run the health service properly it wouldn't need as many spin doctors to cover up its growing list of failures.''

A Health Department spokeswoman said 86 per cent of the workforce was on the front line, "directly supporting patient care''.

She said the department had hired 20 per cent more medical staff since Labor won office in February 2015.

"Like any large service organisation, our administration, operational, trades and artisan employees also make an incredibly valuable contribution to the delivery of public health services to Queenslanders,'' she said.

"When consultants or contractors are engaged it is often to provide certain specialist or technical skills required which are not readily available within in the department.

"These roles can be used to support short term projects or for backfill requirements.''

New government data reveals the Health Department spent $7.4 million on consultants during 2017/18 - including $1 million for administration consultancy.

Health Minister Steven Miles said Labor had slashed spending on consultancies by more than one-third, compared to the former LNP government led by Campbell Newman.

"Under Campbell Newman, nearly $45 million was squandered on consultants while over 14,000 health staff were sacked,'' he said yesterday.