Nursing staff have been left devastated a week out from the Christmas holiday period, following confirmation overall bed numbers will be slashed by almost half at Sydney’s iconic St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst.
Prompted by rumours circulating across the facility, the local branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) sought urgent clarification from hospital management regarding a proposed 50 per cent reduction in bed numbers.
General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said the stalling tactics employed by hospital management were deplorable and their failure to consult appropriately was a clear breach of the Affiliated Health Organisations’ Nurses Agreement.
“Our members are very concerned there has been zero consultation with them or the NSWNMA regarding the closure of beds so close to the busy Christmas and New Year holiday season,” said Mr Holmes.
“Management only called a staff meeting on Wednesday to confirm the restructure arrangements after our NSWNMA branch expressed their concerns and asked for the rumours to be addressed. This is unacceptable behaviour for any organisation, let alone one of Sydney’s flagship hospitals.
“As a result, we are calling on the NSW Minister for Health to intervene and reassure the community that health services will still be delivered at a high standard to the City of Sydney.
“We are fast approaching the busy summer holiday period when presentations at our major hospitals can increase.
“St Vincent’s is the closest metropolitan facility to the New Year’s Eve celebrations on the harbour, a reduction in their capacity will put enormous pressure on the surrounding hospitals, such as Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at Camperdown.”
The NSWNMA understands many of the wards in the Xavier building at St Vincent’s will reduce their capacity down to 20 beds. It’s believed bed numbers in the palliative care and rehabilitation wards will also be reduced to 20 beds as part of the restructure plan.
“With beds already closed in Xavier 9 South ward due to renovations and further closures in Xavier 8 South ward due to occupational hazards linked to the renovation works, the entire capacity will be halved at St Vincent’s under this proposed restructure,” Mr Holmes said.
“Our members are beside themselves with worry about job security and their ability to be redeployed to another ward of the hospital they may have never worked in or have the necessary training for.
“St Vincent’s budget blowout, which was conveyed in the media last month, is another example of our hospital system under enormous stress and why the Ministry of Health must intervene.
“St Vincent’s Hospital is operated by a not-for-profit health organisation and they have let the community down.
“This is a similar not-for-profit model the Health Minister is considering for the new Maitland Hospital at Metford.
“Given this latest development at St Vincent’s Hospital, we urge the Minister once again to abandon the not-for-profit proposal and deliver a publicly built and operated hospital at Maitland.”
Download this media release: St Vincent’s cuts beds, leaves nurses in the dark