HSU campaign reveals cuts to health services

THE Health Service Union is today launching a campaign to draw community attention to cuts to local health services.

The campaign coincides with the end of negotiations between the Northern NSW Local Health District and industrial organisation over the amalgamation of staff from the existing Byron and Mullumbimby district hospitals and Bangalow Community Health for the new Byron Central Hospital workforce.

In November last year, then Health District chief executive Chris Crawford said there would be no cuts to staff as a result of the new hospital opening.

Health District acting chief executive Annette Symes said there had been no redundancies at any of the hospitals since November and no permanent staff member had hours reduced as a result of the hospital opening.

"Casual positions at the existing two hospitals are ad hoc due to requests for shifts to be filled as required," she said in a statement. "This arrangement will continue in the new BCH.

"All new senior management positions at the BCH have been advertised and are currently being recruited to.

"It is expected that the majority of all staff - including doctors, registered nurses, administration officers, allied health clinicians and other support services staff - will not be required to apply for their jobs."

But Northern NSW HSU organiser Jonathan Milman said maintenance, administration and allied health jobs had already been cut.

"They're not offering people the jobs they have now," he said. "They're being forced to apply for other positions that they've not done before.

"For example, there are two maintenance staff. One's employed as a maintenance supervisor, the other one is a trade carpenter. There's only going to be one position at the new hospital.

"To add to that, there's been another significant reduction in allied health and community services.

"That includes occupational therapy, physiotherapy and allied health assistance, which is help with administration.

"Overall it means they'll be able to see less patients, less often, and people will not be able to get the support they have a right to access."

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