Uncertainty for Hawkesbury nurses and midwives

Nurses and midwives at Hawkesbury District Health Service are feeling distressed over concerns their leave entitlements will not be transferred.

From July, Hawkesbury District Health Service, which has been operated by St John of God Health Care for the past eight years, will return to public hands.

Staff have been informed their accrued annual and long service leave will not be transferred due to legal implications between private sector and public sector systems. The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) is exploring possible resolutions to resolve this.

The lack of certainty has left healthcare workers feeling extremely stressed and anxious about their future, with just over two months until Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District takes over.

Staff held a rally at the hospital in their own time today, calling for a smooth and seamless transition, which includes allowing employees to transfer their entitlements. If this doesn’t happen, staff won’t have any leave available from July 1.

NSWNMA Hawkesbury District Health Service Branch secretary, Ben Wright, said staff were feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty.

“After years of loyal and dedicated service to the hospital and community, we feel like this is a real kick in the guts. We are losing the freedom to take our leave on our terms,” said Mr Wright.

“There is a lot of angst among health workers, particularly around the financial and tax implications of this payout. Some staff have hundreds of hours accrued and have plans on how and when they will use it. This move throws their finances and future goals into disarray.

“Having our entitlements paid out in a lump sum will be detrimental in many ways. It will affect government support payments like family tax benefits, paid parental leave and childcare rebates, and it will push some into higher tax brackets. It will also result in a loss of superannuation contributions, and the ability to accrue leave, while on leave.”

NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said while the Association supported the hospital transitioning from private to public, staff needed to be looked after first and foremost.

“Nurses and midwives have provided many years of service and care to the Hawkesbury community and their dedication and hard work needs to be recognised. We are concerned that this will drive away experienced nurses and midwives from the hospital,” said Ms Candish.

“We know this is causing a great deal of distress to our members, and we are working on a possible resolution which will allow nurses and midwives to keep their well-earned leave entitlements.

“We are also seeking assurances from the NSW government that no current positions, roles or services will be lost in this process and no staff will be adversely affected by the changeover.”

 

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