Byron Central Hospital project team withthe latest artist's impressions of the facility. Photo: contributed
Byron Central Hospital project team withthe latest artist's impressions of the facility. Photo: contributed contributed

Health boss denies there will be job losses at new hospital

NORTHERN NSW Local Health District chief executive Chris Crawford has denied union claims any staff will be made redundant with the opening of the new Byron Central Hospital next year.

He said there would be no forced or voluntary redundancies resulting from the closure of the existing Byron and Mullumbimby hospitals.

Most staff would have jobs at the new Byron hospital, but some staff with specific specialities or who wanted specific hours may have to move to neighbouring hospitals.

Health staff and union representatives only received the long-awaited workforce plan for the new hospital last Friday.

Reduction of staff

Northern NSW HSU organiser Jonathan Milman said the Mullumbimby and Byron Hospitals were jointly funded for 32 beds, however Byron Central Hospital would only be funded for 21.

"What's being proposed is quite significant reductions of staff," he said.

The new hospital is due to open in July 2016 and is designed to replace Byron Bay's existing hospital and Mullumbimby Hospital, which will both be closed.

Hospital to open in March

Mr Milman said the Northern Rivers Local Health District informally stated today that it was ahead of schedule and would be looking at moving the opening of the new hospital forward to March.

"We're very concerned that they have a very short time-frame for consultation with the union," he said.

"We're looking at staff who will no longer have a position in the Byron Hospital and Health (Northern Rivers Local Health District) is saying they are prepared to look at redundancies of staff.

Re-applying for jobs

"Our members are devastated.

"All staff, everyone, will have re-apply for their jobs.

"People would be given the news before Christmas whether they can expect to have a job or not."

HSC Secretary Gerard Hayes said the union was calling on the state government not to reduce health staff.

"The Baird Government has now promised not to reduce front line services at two elections and Health Minister Jillian Skinner should be improving clinical services in an area with major population growth, instead of downgrading them," he said.

"This is nothing more than a cynical cost cutting exercise from a Government that puts budgets and dollars before the needs of patients."