Transfer details start to trickle down
After years of waiting, nurses are finally getting some facts on the privatised Northern Beaches Hospital.
Well-attended union meetings and a staff petition appear to have prompted health authorities to finally start disclosing vital information for nurses transferring to Sydney’s new privatised Northern Beaches Hospital.
Nurses will be expected to move from Manly and Mona Vale public hospitals to the Healthscope–operated Northern Beaches Hospital when it opens in November 2018.
Staff have been seeking answers to basic questions – such as what positions will be offered, how will positions be filled, and what transition arrangements will apply – since the government announced the hospital would be built and run by a private operator four years ago.
In late 2016, the NSWNMA went to the Industrial Relations Commission to try to get some answers.
Commissioner Peter Newall said employees should not have to decide their employment futures without knowing basic information and recommended a Ministry of Health senior representative attend the next meeting between unions, Northern Sydney Local Health District and Healthscope.
Last month the NSWNMA and other health unions called meetings of members at Mona Vale and Manly hospitals.
Each hospital held two meetings at noon and 1.30pm to cater for staff after the morning shift and before the afternoon shift.
The meetings endorsed a petition calling for staff to be given the information they need at least 12 months before the hospital opens.
Mona Vale hospital branch secretary Robyne Brown said staff were frustrated that consultative meetings held with the LHD every two months had produced almost no hard information in writing.
“Every time we asked a question the LHD would it take on notice and refer it to the Health Ministry.
“Nurses would like some answers so we can work out whether it will be worth our while to transfer or not.”
She said that following Commissioner Newall’s recommendation, a Health Ministry representative did attend a consultative meeting but arrived an hour and a half late.
Pressure leads to more info
However last month’s union meetings and petition appear to have had some effect.
The LHD has since emailed nurses to advise they will receive a transfer payment of one week’s pay for each year of service up to a maximum of eight weeks if permanently employed for six years or more.
And the ministry has given unions some information about employment entitlements and conditions.
Robyne said that in a further sign of progress, an LHD manager had been assigned to work at the ministry to obtain answers for staff.
NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said the NSWNMA was reviewing the information provided “but it is evident that concerns will remain”.
“It is clear that the union meetings, along with the petition, have already had an effect on the LHD and ministry. However, more needs to be identified and made known,” he said.
“For example, it was still unclear whether government regulations would allow redundancy payments to be offered to staff.”