Nurses and midwives have slammed a proposed workplace plan for the Byron Central Hospital which requires them to re-apply for their jobs.
Both the Byron and Mullumbimby District Hospital branches of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) held extraordinary branch meetings last week, with resolutions passed to seek immediate improvements to the workforce plan and consultation process.
They say the plan leaves them with little job security, with a proposal to abolish eight full-time equivalent jobs … something which the chief executive of the Northern NSW Local Area Health District (NNSW LHD), Chris Crawford denies.
NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association assistant general secretary Judith Kiejda, said the long-awaited plan, released on November 13, was a blow to local nurses and midwives and had left them with little job security.
‘Our members have been waiting for this workforce plan to be released since August. Now, six weeks out from Christmas and the busy holiday season, they’ve been told they’ll need to follow a process of applying for their current positions,’ Ms Kiejda said.
‘The LHD has told them there are not enough jobs at the new hospital for all current staff, with eight full-time equivalent nursing jobs abolished.’
‘The opening date for Byron Central Hospital has also been brought forward to March next year, shifting the planned closure of both Byron District and Mullumbimby District hospitals.
‘Understandably, our members are upset by the little consultation that has occurred to date.
‘There have also been attempts to exclude union representation from future consultation meetings, which is completely unacceptable given the state of uncertainty staff are in.’
Mullumbimby District Hospital Branch secretary, Shauna Boyle, said nursing staff were anxious and felt they did not have enough information about the process to apply for their jobs, and were also concerned about proposed structural changes.
‘We are very concerned about the proposed combination of key senior roles, such as a Nursing Unit Manager and Clinical Nurse Educator. These are two very distinct leadership roles – to combine them is nonsensical and raises conflict of interest issues,’ she said.
Byron District Hospital branch secretary, Liz McCall, said her members shared the same sentiments during their extraordinary meeting last Thursday, including the possibility that the LHD may hand-pick certain positions.
‘There’s a perception the new management positions have been devised in an inequitable way to favour certain staff skill sets, raising concerns that preferential treatment will occur if these positions are not advertised and chosen on merit,’ Ms McCall said.
‘The proposed amalgamation of senior roles is near-sighted and not supported, particularly in light of the dedicated enhancement funding that created Clinical Nurse Educator positions in the first place.
‘We’re worried the combination of certain roles could also remove future career pathways for staff.’
In a two-line response, Mr Crawford denied the claims.
‘There will be no forced redundancies when the Byron Central Hospital opens in the first quarter of 2016,’ Mr Crawford said.
‘The release issued today claiming job losses is to the contrary and is just plain wrong.’