While the construction of the new Byron Central Hospital continues ahead of schedule, unions representing local health professionals say they are facing job insecurity owing to bureaucrats not providing staffing plans.
Both the NSW Nurses And Midwives Association (NSWNMA) and Health Services Union (HSU) say they have concerns over the ‘ongoing delay in providing information to staff about staffing and service provision arrangements at the new Byron Central Hospital (BCH).’
‘Staff employed at both the hospitals and community health centres are experiencing stress and anxiety as the BCH workforce plan has not yet been released, despite repeated assurances that it would be forthcoming on a number of occasions over the last six to eight weeks.’
The Echo sought a reply from NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, who replied, ‘The people of the Byron Shire will soon have a brand new hospital to deliver the health services they need now and into the future. It will be staffed appropriately.’
‘The Northern NSW Local Health District has advised every effort is being made to ensure staff who work at neighbouring health services, including the Mullumbimby and Byron District Hospitals, will be placed into positions at the new Byron Central Hospital when it opens in mid-2016. In addition to the community meeting on construction of the $88 million Byron Central Hospital this Wednesday – where surgery services will also be discussed – the Local Health District will brief staff on the workforce plan in the coming weeks.’
Additionally, NNSW LHD CEO Chris Crawford replied that he is planning to brief staff on the Workforce Position Plan at Byron Central Hospital in the next two weeks.
‘Hospital staff are either permanent full-time or part-time employees, and none of these staff will be forced to take a redundancy. Some staff will also have the option to work in neighbouring hospitals and community health services.’
Yet many questions put to Ms Skinner and Mr Crawford from the two unions remain unanswered.
‘How many beds will be opened initially in the Inpatient Unit?
‘Will service and staffing decisions be made according to the Clinical Service Plan 2012 that informed the design of the hospital?
‘When will a decision be made regarding the privatisation of some segments of the medical imaging department? When will the sub-acute Mental Health unit be opened?
‘Will the sub-acute Mental Health Unit be managed separately to the hospital and community health services?’
• A community update on the new hospital is scheduled from 5pm on Wednesday November 4 at the Byron at Byron resort.