Sunday, July 26, 2009


Nepean nurses fear chop for 155

Kate Benson, smh

July 26, 2009

NURSES at one of Sydney's busiest hospitals fear losing their jobs after being told more than 150 positions would be axed, while health workers in the state's north have been offered redundancy deals for the third time in six months, in a bid to clear debt of more than $130 million.

Nurses at Nepean Hospital were told 12 days ago that 155 positions would be lost, despite assurances that front-line staff would not be targeted.

"The nurses here are beside themselves. There is no fat on the bone," NSW Nurses Association branch secretary Peter Mason said yesterday.

"They are outraged and angered that management has refused to tell us where and when this will happen. I can't see where we could lose anyone without services being affected."

NSW Nurses Association general secretary Brett Holmes said it was not time to "get panicky" until it was clear which services would be affected. "But we have told them in no uncertain terms that if they don't consult with us there will be a war," Mr Holmes said.

In May, support staff at Nepean expressed no confidence in the area chief executive, Steven Boyages, over unfilled vacancies and management structures within the beleaguered Sydney West Area Health Service. They will stop work for two hours on Tuesday to protest at the privatisation of food services and a lack of staff.

On Friday, it was revealed that the North Coast Area Health Service was running more than $130 million in the red on last year's budget, including $19 million over budget at Lismore Hospital, $16 million at Coffs Harbour and more than $13 million at Port Macquarie.

All staff were sent emails asking them to consider taking redundancy to cut costs, but a statement by the area health service indicated the offers were aimed at administrative, corporate, support and management positions.