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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Hospital staff call for job certainty

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Construction continues apace at Byron Central Hospital. but staff from the shire’s two existing hospitals are angry they have yet to be advised of the health district’s staffing plans. Photo NNSWLHD

Hans Lovejoy

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.’

Questions remain

Yet many questions put to Ms Skinner and Mr Crawford from the two unions remain unanswered.

They include:

‘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.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. It is extremely frustrating to be told months ago that the workforce numbers would be announced ‘next week’.
    And then ever since there’s been thundering silence. It does make one wonder about why the hesitation?
    Is there another agenda going on? It also makes it impossible to plan for a new service, defining what can and can’t be done without knowing what staff will be allocated.
    Since the Byron Clinical Services Plan 2012 was written, the NSW Government have adopted the very stringent National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards. These mandate many day to day requirements and in a greenfield site such as Byron Central Hospital, I believe the staffing model needs to ensure that any service can meet these standards!
    However from rumours and the recent inability to get specific workforce numbers, I worry that we will be forced from the outset, to struggle with insufficient staff to meet these standards. This is unfair on the staff involved and causes extreme stress and is unfair on the community when they receive less than their urban counterparts. Ie Health by postcode.

  2. Why is it I read Chris Crawford’s name and see a pristine & unsullied paper bag? One would have thought that the staff were THE most important part of a Hospital (but far be it for me to comment – I’m only a policy wonk who was once the Administrator of a 134 bed Nursing Home).

  3. When we were building the new base hospital in Albury staff in all areas were afraid of not getting their jobs back. It was always just a rumour. You are all needed from the porters/kitchen staff to the registered nurses. You are all valued employees.

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