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June 21, 2024 9:32 AM

Strike Action Monday Over Hospital Funds Shortfall

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BY JEM ANSHAW

Being told an emergency caesarean is your best option during labour is a scary enough experience for any parents faced with it, but imagine knowing that on your way from the birthing suite to theatre you will have to pass by the emergency department and anyone waiting to be seen.

This, and many other glaring issues, are what have been put in as the best option for the reviewed stage three development at Muswellbrook Hospital.

Earlier this month it came out that the $45 million in funding granted to complete some desperately needed work at the Brentwood Street facility will not cut it due to increases in construction costs, and there has been no indication from the State Government that more funding is on the way.

“A lot of our nursing staff are just angry and upset,” Nurses and Midwives Association Muswellbrook vice president Peggy Smith said when discussing the situation they now face.

“Close to 10 years ago we were rallying for a new facility and then being given this promise of upgrades to the existing facility and how long this process has taken, it felt like we were finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”

It is yet another blow to recruitment and retainment, as now the concerns are that our surgeons and specialist nurses will move on to better facilities and become like maternity – a thing of the past at Muswellbrook Hospital.

The theatre is being so heavily highlighted by hospital staff as the 1970s room is in desperate need of work – so much so that it currently only has compliance on the grounds of the original stage 3 work being funded.

Peggy has met with Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell, who has agreed that it is important that the Labor Government come to the party and fund the shortfall rather than revise the overall project.

“It is hardly surprising to hear that the original Stage Three-$45million budget promised by the Coalition Government over two years ago has now increased due to inflation,” Mr Layzell said in a statement.

“You do not need to be an economist to understand that concept. Accordingly, inflation cannot be used as an excuse by government to cutback or delay critical projects. It is a normal part of doing business in a strong market economy.”

Some of the issues identified by the Nurses and Midwives Association with the revised plan are;

  • There will be no new theatre or sterilizing unit,
  • The floorplan will see access to theatre taking patients through a thoroughfare, and past the Emergency Department,
  • The demolition of the current Community Health building will happen at the same time as other work on the site, meaning all staff from there will need to be relocated into the main hospital building,
  • Plant room, accessed by contractors and sub-contractors, will be across from maternity,
  • There will still be issues around the number of bathrooms and other amenities needed to safely accommodate patients,
  • There is no room for further expansion up or out from the revised stage 3 plan – meaning future growth will be hindered.

The Muswellbrook branch of the Nurses and Midwives Association have voted to take industrial action next week, should the Minister for Heath and Treasurer not confirm a time and date to meet with them to hear their concerns.
On Monday, August 28, they will undertake a one hour stop-work from 2pm to 3pm outside Muswellbrook Hospital.
Members of the community are encouraged to join them, show their support and to hear first-hand what impact this will have on the delivery of health services in Muswellbrook.

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