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‘Health positions at risk’: HSU

Tuesday, 13th January, 2015

Health Services Union Secretary Gerard Hayes (left), with President Mark Sterrey, HSU Union Council Director Darriea Turley and Deputy Manager Public Health Adam Hall yesterday. Health Services Union Secretary Gerard Hayes (left), with President Mark Sterrey, HSU Union Council Director Darriea Turley and Deputy Manager Public Health Adam Hall yesterday.

By Erica Visser

Local health professionals’ positions are at risk and Broken Hill Hospital could face privatisation after the upcoming state election, the Health Services Union (HSU) has warned.

HSU representatives touched down in Broken Hill yesterday to reassure its 35 local members that “Broken Hill is just as important as the RPA (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) or any other city hospital.”

Secretary Gerard Hayes, who took over the role in 2012, said that the jobs of HSU members were under threat as local managers would soon be forced to cut already stretched budgets.

“We see that the government of NSW is cutting budgets, putting managers under pressure to be able to deliver services and ultimately we see elsewhere in NSW, and our fear is here as well, that privatisation becomes an issue which leads then to decreased service delivery,” Mr Hayes told local media yesterday.

Mr Hayes said privatisation of health services was on the government’s agenda, citing the Northern Beaches Hospital as an example.

The controversial hospital would be built and managed by private provider Healthscope in partnership with the government.

“The privatisation issue has already begun in other areas of NSW ... (Health services) should be delivered by the public system; not by a private sector who will look at profit and then will look at what sort of services can fit into those profit margins.

“We are going into an election period shortly. After that election period I think we will be seeing a lot of activity going into the private sector. 

“Now I’m not here to scare people or anything along those lines. What I am saying is right around the state of NSW, irrespective of whether you live near Pitt Street in the city or whether you live in Bourke, the reality is that you need to be able to access good quality health care and have good quality health professional staff to be able to look after you through that process.

“We need to make a stand to say the public health system is not for sale whether it’s in the city or whether it’s regionally or remotely based.”

Mr Hayes said that chronically underfunded mental health services were at risk under the predicted cuts.

“We’re now seeing this government look at mental health and looking to move mental health back into the community.”

Mr Hayes also said that the Baird Government was letting the Far West down by not supporting its prime goal to attract and retain staff. 

“The government is not doing enough. We see post graduate (students) unable to do their post graduate here due mainly to the fact the government is not investing in these health professionals going forward. There’s going to be a very important impact on regional and remote NSW,” Mr Hayes said.

He said the HSU hoped to encourage professionals to move to the outback, but ultimately it was management’s job to keep them here.

“We have a lot of health professionals - they need to be engaged, they need to be respected and they need to be treated reasonably and they will be attracted here and be able to be retained here and that’s the important message we want to be putting forward.”

Local members had told the HSU they were feeling the pressure of extra duties after the alleged loss of administrative staff.

“The graduate positions no longer exist, the work then falls back on the health professional, the health professional is not getting the support from administrative offices who are no longer there anymore and these are important things,” Mr Hayes said.

“These cutbacks that have been going on across the board in every local health district ... apply pressure to the workforce and hence your retention decreases.”

According to Mr Hayes, there was too much focus put on maintaining paperwork and not enough on patient care.

“Reporting seems to be the most important thing these days. Well our view is that the treatment of patients and the support of patients is the most important issue,” Mr Hayes said.

“The government needs to supply the appropriate budget to allow the managers to actually employ and engage the right amount of people to deliver the quality services which this community deserves.”

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