‘It’s worse than people imagine’

WODONGA nurses fear patients will be at risk and they will forced into new jobs as Albury Wodonga Health slashes staff and beds across the cities.

North East region industrial organiser with the Australian Nursing Federation, Alison Kairns, met nurses at Wodonga hospital yesterday and said they had raised several concerns.

Above all, they feared the public didn’t realise how much of an impact the loss of 28 beds would have on waiting times for surgery and at emergency departments.

“Already, emergency gets extremely full and they’ve got nowhere to put them,” she said.

“They think: ‘When we lose those beds what’s going to happen?”

Ms Kairns said the transfer of 10 rehabilitation beds to Albury Hospital also had some nurses unsure whether they would be travelling across the river to work or given positions in a another department.

“Nurses like to work in the specialities that they’ve got used to,” Ms Kairns said.

“It may mean nurses are re-employed in an area that they’re not particularly keen on.”

Albury Wodonga Health’s voluntary redundancy program will slash 50 jobs from the organisation, but Ms Kairns said she didn’t expect there would be fewer nurses.

She said while there was nothing to prevent nurses applying for redundancy, the ANF would be extremely concerned if that person was not replaced.

Victorian ANF members will rally in Treasury Gardens, Melbourne, tomorrow in protest over the closure of 400 beds across the state.

Branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said they blamed “the decline in Victoria’s health system” on both the state and federal governments.

“It is critical that Premier Ted Baillieu shows leadership and goodwill and meets Prime Minister Gillard and the federal Treasurer Wayne Swan to fix this situation,” she said.

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