THE people of Bathurst are being urged to stand up and fight as they have never fought before for our hospital.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association assistant state secretary Judith Kiejda has issued the battle cry in the wake of revelations that Bathurst Hospital faces what she describes as severe cuts to staff and services.
Eighty members of the union met with organisers at the hospital on Thursday afternoon to discuss the proposed changes. Every department of the hospital was represented.
Ms Kiejda told the Western Advocate yesterday the fact that this was one of the best attended union meetings ever held at Bathurst Hospital reflected the concern members are feeling.
Ms Kiejda said the Western NSW Local Health District has been very upfront in saying they have to make savings to meet the budget and the only way to do that is the reduction of staff and services. Members were also told that theatres will be “slowed down”.
“I cannot believe government and management think this is the way to go,” Ms Kiejda said.
“Bathurst is a large regional city that is growing all the time, so service demand will increase.
“It makes absolutely no sense to cut services and staff.
“I can’t get away from the fact that we are a wealthy, first-world country. We should be able to afford to look after the sick in our community.”
She said she cannot believe the health district is reducing the capacity of intensive care from three nurses per shift to two. She said in practical terms this means at least three beds will go. Ms Kiejda said by the union’s calculations a total of 11.71 front line clinical positions will be removed from our hospital.
The union boss said we have an ageing population prone to strokes and heart attacks as well as hip and knee replacements. Earmarked cuts to areas like ICU and rehab will result in people going home earlier than they should.
She added that rather than receive care outside the hospital, a lot will go without.
“The Local Health District has been very upfront in saying this must happen because of a budget imperative, and I think that speaks volumes. They have no idea what this does to a regional area,” Ms Kiejda said.
She said at the end of the day members want the best care for the community they serve.
“They have a professional responsibility to make sure the appropriate resources are available to do that, yet the government is cutting the legs out from under them,” she said.
The proposed changes will be announced formally at an urgent consultation meeting with the union on Monday.