'Scared and worried': Hospital staff want answers

ALBURY hospital workers scared of losing their jobs may hold a rally to drum up public support for steps that would avoid forced redundancies.

A Health Services Union branch representing non-nursing staff at the Albury hospital is demanding an explanation from Albury Wodonga Health about where it wants the axe to fall.

It has given chief executive Dr Stuart Spring seven days to explain exactly where the cross-border service expects jobs to be cut.

Judy Owen is acting organiser for the HSU in the Murrumbidgee health district — which covers Albury but not Wodonga — and says her 100 or so members in Albury are “scared and worried”.

“We don’t think (Dr Spring) will get 50 voluntary redundancies so they will be forced to cut services or have forced redundancies,” Ms Owen said last night.

“If Dr Spring doesn’t come back with an explanation, we’ll consider getting the community behind us with a rally.

“Some staff have already started a petition about the hospital cuts.”

Nurses’ representatives in Wodonga said last week they didn’t expect nursing jobs to go, but Dr Spring’s memo to all 1200 staff didn’t specify any categories identified for cuts or exemptions.

The service employs about 600 equivalent full-time nurses, slightly more than half of them in Wodonga, but the HSU doesn’t represent them as they have their own union.

Ms Owen said the HSU members included office staff, cleaners, hospitality staff, junior doctors and allied health workers such as physiotherapists.

Job cuts are just part of the pain forced on Albury Wodonga Health by the need to trim $3.9 million from its budget in the next five months due to government funding cuts.

Beds and theatres are being closed, with the result that elective surgery operations for public patients, normally conducted at a rate of 900 month, will be slashed by a third.

The waiting list reached 4000 this week and could hit 5500 by mid-year.

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