Surgery fall off leads to redundancies at Berkeley Vale
Approximately 50 nurses at Berkeley Vale Private Hospital will be laid off just prior to Christmas after Ramsay decided to shut down the hospital’s surgical unit.
“They stopped all surgical services in November, and it has affected all the surgical staff and the theatre staff and some administrative staff,” said Janine Barton, president of the local NSWNMA local branch.
“Giving us five weeks’ notice just before Christmas has been really difficult. It has been a roller-coaster; it has affected our home life as well”, she said.
Janine said the reason Ramsay gave for the closure is that the hospital’s surgical services had dropped off, and they intended increasing the mental health side of the business.
The decision has been particularly difficult for the close- knit staff, most of whom have worked at the hospital for an average of 15 years.
“I had personally been there for 18 and a half years”, Janine says.
“Berkeley Vale has had such an amazing reputation. The public and the community are really disappointed to see it go. The staff are a family, and the patients love that it has that family feeling. We know the patients that come in for their procedures.”
NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda said Ramsay didn’t hold any consultations before announcing the redundancies.
“Staff were given a termination notice from the day they were originally told of the closure. We got involved and had that extended by about two weeks. That meant most people got an extra week of pay after the facility closed,” she said.
“We also advocated for a person who was pregnant and who had been planning to take parental leave. We secured the payment of her parental leave and her redundancy as well.”
NSWNMA representatives and some 24 members held a meeting with the National Executive Operations Manager of Ramsay and “that communal meeting with him really put him on the spot, and that is how we got some of these concessions”, Judith says.
Ramsay also agreed to bring in representatives from the major hospitals in the area with lists of other jobs available.
“Pretty much everybody has been given casual work elsewhere,” Janine says. “We have had a lot of support from North Gosford Private and Brisbane Waters Private and Gosford Public and Wyong Public.
“But it will be a really sad day when we all walk out the door for the last time.”
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