Funding woes prompt sudden ward closure at Westmead Hospital
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has slammed a decision by Western Sydney Local Health District to shutdown an entire 29-bed ward at Westmead Hospital due to budget constraints, following minimal consultation with staff and the community.
Over two hundred nurses and midwives gathered outside Westmead Hospital this afternoon to highlight their disappointment, as well as the disruption to patients and local residents.
The ear, nose and throat; head and neck; and plastics surgical ward, known as B3A, will cease operation from today at the major tertiary referral hospital and stay closed for the remainder of the current financial year.
General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said nurses employed in ward B3A were all understandably shocked by the sudden closure and upset they were not given more notice of the decision.
“We are obviously concerned that these cuts may just be the start, not to mention the flow on implications this will have on other wards, particularly Westmead’s already stretched emergency department, over the next eight months,” Mr Holmes said.
“Western Sydney Local Health District has since confirmed all staff will be redeployed within the health service or be encouraged to use any excess leave they may have accrued.
“Asking staff to nominate their preferred transfer options with just one week’s notice is appalling and shows a complete disregard by management toward its dedicated nursing workforce.
“This is a blatant attempt by management to cut costs by reducing its overall nursing numbers at Westmead. Some 47 nursing staff in B3A will be relocated into existing vacant positions throughout the hospital and all patients will have to be accommodated in other wards and units.”
“Western Sydney Local Health District claims the B3A closure is a temporary measure, but given the sudden nature of this shutdown, coupled with ongoing workload issues and lengthy delays in nursing vacancy recruitments, we fear it may be longer,” concluded Mr Holmes.
Westmead Hospital Branch of the NSWNMA has called on NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, to intervene in the current health funding crisis.
Branch members have asked the Health Minister to ensure Western Sydney Local Health District is funded appropriately to operate Westmead and its surrounding hospitals, which serve one of the fastest growing population areas in the state.
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