Northern Beaches contract signed, but nurses still in the dark

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has called on NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner to be upfront with the nurses and midwives who live and work on Sydney’s Northern Beaches about their future prospects.

Less than two weeks out from Christmas, the Health Minister today announced the signing of a multi-million dollar contract with private provider Healthscope to design, build and operate the new Northern Beaches Hospital planned for Frenchs Forest.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said despite attempts to negotiate with the Ministry of Health in good faith about what lies ahead for nursing staff at Manly and Mona Vale Hospitals, specific details of employment conditions, entitlements and the future of nurse-to-patient ratios are still being kept under wraps.

“For more than a year we’ve been highlighting concerns about the NSW Government’s plan to privatise the new public hospital earmarked for the Northern Beaches and the flow-on impacts likely to hit the local community,” Mr Holmes said.

“Our key concern has always been the history of failure of public-private partnerships in a public hospital setting, the lack transparency surrounding ‘commercial in confidence’ arrangements and the inability of government to be upfront with nursing professionals about employment prospects.

“We were told that further details would come to light once a preferred tender was announced, then reassured that our members would be kept up to date about arrangements regarding working conditions, entitlements and nurse-to-patient ratios but, yet again, they’re being told to wait.

“The Minister now says a contract summary will be made available in 2015 – she’s essentially telling the residents, small business operators and community groups on the Northern Beaches to ‘hold tight, watch this space’, it’s extremely disingenuous.”

The NSWNMA has vowed to continue campaigning against the privatisation of the new Northern Beaches Hospital on behalf of its members and the wider community.

The NSWNMA opposes the NSW Government’s ongoing plan to sell off the state’s public hospital system to a handful of corporations to profit from health, given there is no evidence to suggest such a move will result in improved health outcomes for patients or budget efficiencies.

Download this media release: Northern Beaches contract signed but nurses still in the dark

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