Work bans get results at Batlow

Work bans by nurses at Batlow’s new Multi Purpose Service force management to address dangerous building defects.

Work bans by nurses at Batlow’s new Multi Purpose Service (MPS) in the state’s south have spurred the GSAHS to address nurses’ concerns about worsening building defects, which are putting staff and patients at risk.

The multi-purpose facility, commissioned in August last year, has been plagued with problems including serious roof and ceiling leaks resulting in collapsed ceiling panels, exposed wiring, slippery floors and dangerous working conditions.

After many futile attempts to get the problems addressed and rectified, nurses initiated bans on non-emergency admissions, at an extraordinary branch meeting on 31 December, resulting in several notices being issued by Work Cover to the GSAHS. This in turn led to immediate action by the AHS and the builder.

The GSAHS’ acting Asset Manager Mal Allen told the ABC at the time that he could appreciate nurses’ frustration.

‘We’ve got a number of defects but obviously these are high on the priority list now because of what happened recently,’ he said, referring to the NSWNA action and WorkCover notices.

After an on-site meeting between the NSWNA, the GSAHS and the builder on 6 January, the area health service assured nurses that repairs and rectifications would be initiated.

A walk-around at that meeting also revealed more problems including security and OHS shortcomings.

WorkCover issued notices to the GSAHS over several OHS issues identified by nurses including concerns over manual handling, electrical tagging and gas bottles.

Following a flurry of activity, a WorkCover inspection the next day convinced nurses that the problems were either being actioned or plans were in place to do so, prompting them to lift the bans.

Branch President Melissa Cooper described the outcome as a great result for patients, residents, staff, and the whole Batlow community.

‘Before Christmas, it was just going from bad to worse. Things were falling apart and we’d tried every avenue to have these problems rectified but to no avail,’ she said.

‘It was beyond a joke. We had water running onto electrical equipment and computers, rooms shut off and wires hanging down from the ceiling. At this facility we not only provide emergency and acute care but also aged care, meaning we have permanent residents here who call this their home.

‘When management told us we’d have to wait till after the holidays for anything to be done, well, that was the final straw.

‘Nurses are relieved to finally see repairs underway and we hope the community can now have the facility it deserves. They have worked tirelessly for over 10 years to achieve this beautiful facility and they deserve to have it functioning properly so we can provide the care for them they deserve.’

The successful campaign was especially satisfying to Batlow members, who had just formed their NSWNA branch in late November.

‘Most of us at the facility were already NSWNA members so organising the branch was fairly straightforward. The NSWNA has been incredibly supportive and helpful right through this and we’re pretty proud of what we’ve achieved.’