400 nurses go, if 300 beds shut down

400 nurses go, if 300 beds shut down

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has written to NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the implications of the federal Budget on public health services across the State.

Premier Mike Baird indicated around 300 beds would have to close from 1 July this year, as a result of the federal Budget cuts to public hospital funding.

Such a move would prevent more than 27,000 patients from accessing a public hospital bed each year, based on a patient’s average length of stay in NSW public hospitals.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said the closure of a single bed would be an immediate breach of Ms Skinner’s promise last week to put patients first.

“Last Wednesday, the NSW Health Minister clearly stated there would be no cuts to hospital services and no co-payment for emergency department patients in NSW – now the Premier says up to 300 beds could close – who do we believe?,” Mr Holmes said.

“Understandably, our members are horrified at the prospect of 300 bed closures, which would mean the loss of up 400 full-time equivalent nursing staff as well as other public health employees.

“This would have a devastating impact on nursing staff and the level of safe patient care they could provide to the community.”

Mr Holmes also reiterated the call for the Abbott Government to consider the introduction of a modest Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) to assist with future public health delivery costs.

“An FTT is not an imposition on everyday Australians, unlike broadening the GST base,” Mr Holmes said.

“A small levy on the trading of financial instruments such as shares, bonds and futures is a much more sensible approach than slugging those already doing it tough with rising cost of living pressures.”

NB: A copy of the NSWNMA’s letter to the Office of the Minister for Health is here: Urgent request for Meeting 19 May 2014.

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