Fair Work Australia (FWA) on Saturday 23 February was to hold a special weekend sitting to consider the nursing job losses and hours reductions being proposed by Pulse Health at its Forster Private Hospital, on the NSW mid north coast.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) members at the Forster Private Hospital have rejected claims by hospital management that planned nurse sackings and hours reductions are necessary because there have been excess nursing hours worked in the past.
Hospital management made the claims on NBN Television news on 20 February.
NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said this latest hospital management claim does not stand scrutiny, as the rosters show that hospital management is regularly asking nurses to work more than their contracted hours to ensure shifts are filled.
“The rosters indicate that the Forster Private nursing workforce is regularly being asked to work up to 200 hours a month more than their total contracted hours. It is management that is asking the nurses to work these hours, so they must be necessary to run the services.
“The March 2013 roster also highlights the extent of the staff shortages at Forster Private. Earlier in the week the rehabilitation unit roster was still showing seven vacant shifts for the period 6 March to 19 March. The acute-surgical unit was showing 11 morning and evening shifts and nine night shifts vacant during the same period.
“I am advised things are so serious that all the nurse unit managers and the director of nursing himself are now down to work ‘on the floor’ for more than 300 hours, as regular registered nurses during that period, and there are still 20 vacant shifts to fill over the fortnight.
“Finally, it is also wrong for Forster Private management to refer to the nurses being sacked or facing reduced hours as casuals. They are permanent part-time employees.
“It is time Pulse Health came clean on its real agenda here, which is to put profits ahead of safe patient care. Something that is unacceptable.
“The NSWNMA has sought the assistance of Fair Work Australia to keep Pulse Health and Forster Private management accountable to their employees and patients. Hopefully we can get a positive outcome at today’s hearing,” Mr Holmes said on Saturday.
NSWNMA members at Forster Private voted last Friday to only work in accordance with their contracted hours and decline, as they are entitled to do, the frequent requests to make themselves available for additional shifts, after hospital management announced last week it was sacking six nurses and reducing the hours worked by a seventh. Hospital management is now talking about 3.5 FTEs, but staffing uncertainty still hangs over the facility.
Forster Private Hospital provides acute medical, surgical and rehabilitation services to the people of the Great Lakes area and beyond.
Pulse Health acquired the business, which was previously known as Cape Hawke Community Private Hospital, in April 2008.
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