Cleaners in job cuts firing line
CLEANING, gardening and administration positions will be targeted when the North Coast Area Health Service starts to slash jobs in order to rein in Lismore Base Hospital's multi-million dollar budget blow-out.
Health service boss Chris Crawford said the same amount of cleaning could be achieved by fewer staff and under new conditions hospital staff would be required to do more and take on wider roles.
“Nobody is saying it will be easy,” he said.
Mr Crawford confirmed the Lismore Base Hospital's budget was in the red, but denied it was by $12 million.
“It's a few million,” he said.
Health Services Union representative for Lismore Base Hospital, Therese Crollick, said she was outraged by Mr Crawford's plans because cleaners were an integral part of infection control at the hospital.
Hospital cleaning staff are responsible for cleaning patients' bathrooms, floors and public access areas, including the hospital entrance.
“There is a huge potential for people to walk in bacteria off the street,” Mrs Crollick said.
Nurses would have to pick up the slack if cleaning jobs were cut back, she said.
“They are not going to want to do that,” she said.
Mrs Crollick said hospital cleaning jobs were frontline positions and Mr Crawford had given the union an assurance no frontline positions would be targeted.
“He has gone back on his word,” she said.
Mrs Crollick said the hospital had a very good occupational health and safety record, but if cleaners were expected to do more there would be more workplace injuries.
“It's because of the nature of the work and the repetitiveness of the work,” she said.
“It's very hard, physical work and I don't know how they could be expected to do any more.”
Mrs Crollick said the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney had tried to cut back on its cleaners with disastrous results.