Healthscope in ‘daily breach’ of commitments

Northern Beaches nurses flood the Association with complaints about new hospital.

Northern Beaches Hospital was opened before it was ready and Healthscope was breaking it’s commitment to uphold staff-to-patient ratios “on a daily basis”, NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, told ABC Radio.

 Brett was interviewed on November 20 – three weeks after the hospital received its first patients.

 He said the hospital was suffering from stock shortages, insufficient staff to handle the patient load and inadequate training on new equipment.

“I’m sitting in front of 40 pages of emails from my members which detail [problems in] the first 10 days of operation,” he said.

“I think Healthscope operators completely underestimated the impact of opening a new hospital and the surge of patients they would experience.”

He called on the state government to insist that Healthscope honour its commitment to staff who transferred from Manly and Mona Vale hospitals concerning their working conditions, including staff-to-patient ratios.

“[These commitments] are being breached on a daily basis.

“This is a shocking situation where Healthscope has contracted to deliver these services and they are simply not showing that they can do it.”

Already losing staff

He said some Healthscope nurses had already decided to quit the hospital.

“They were sceptical about transferring from the public system into the private system and the experience has been such they are already resigning and going elsewhere … Hopefully [more] people won’t be forced into that situation.

“But what we saw in the build-up to the opening was four years of Healthscope and Northern Sydney Local Health District failing to really engage with staff and tell them what the future would look like.”

Brett was asked: “Is it just a matter of waiting for [the hospital] to hit its stride?”

He replied: “Well, I really feel for all the patients and staff who have been in that waiting period because staff have done their very best to keep patients safe but the stories being told really do not give you much confidence. We hope that it will improve.

“The people of the northern beaches may have been asleep when this was being forced upon them but they should be awake now. They have now got a hospital they should have high expectations of, given that the government is paying billions of dollars to a private operator to run it.

“They certainly should be looking to their local members of parliament and saying, what’s going on here, this is not the hospital you promised us.”

The manager of NBH is now reporting that the hospital is meeting it’s obligations to provide the original nursing hours with large numbers of agency RNs and overtime and extra shifts from part-time staff.