Hospital staff fear more job cuts

Monday 26th November, 2012

Nurses are bracing for more job cuts at Townsville Hospital. The Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) presented the Townsville Hospital and Health Service with a petition of 3000 signatures yesterday, pleading that no more positions be slashed in the region.

The union is expecting the health board to announce more job cuts following the board's meeting on Monday.

The board, however, says there are no plans to decrease the workforce beyond 200 cuts already announced in September.

It comes as the Mackay Hospital and Health Service defends the axing of five positions at Bowen Hospital, saying the facility is over-staffed and over budget.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service CEO Kerry McGovern said Bowen was $511,677 over budget last financial year, despite a budget increase of $1.35 million from the previous year.

He denied reports staff had been sacked, instead saying the service was in the consultation phase with staff and unions regarding options.

"The proposed changes being consulted on involve the reduction of hours or positions to the equivalent of almost five full-time positions across registered nurses, assistants in nursing, pharmacy assistant, administration officer and wardsperson/hotel services," he said.

QNU Townsville organiser Louise Middleton said people were very concerned about the loss of skilled jobs at North Queensland hospitals.

An email leaked to the Bulletin two weeks ago showed the Townsville Hospital and Health Service needed to identify 80 more full-time equivalent positions to go.

"That email has since been retracted, however we believe that there be will be more cuts, and that decision will be made on Monday by the board," she said.

She said health workers were terrified of losing their jobs before the holiday period.

"We had the nursing directors being told to drive out and tell nurses in places like Charters Towers their positions were going," she said.

"So people were literally hiding or they would call in sick because they knew the executive were coming up for the day."

Townsville Hospital and Health Service Board chairman John Bearne said there were no plans to reduce staff beyond the 200 positions already announced.