Fears for 500 health jobs

THE JOBS of more than 500 cleaners, wardsmen and security guards at six Northern NSW hospitals are in jeopardy under an efficiency review examining the privatisation of services across the heath district.

Dubbed an "efficiency capacity development program", the review is examining the efficiency of those positions and others at Grafton, Maclean, Ballina, Murwillumbah, Tweed and Lismore hospitals, according to the Health Services Union.

HSU Northern NSW org-aniser Jonathan Milman said the original "market test" of domestic services had been expanded to also include linen services, portaging, internal courier and email, materials management, pest control and waste management positions.

"You're talking at least 500 staff, at a minimum, not including the casual staff who work in those services," he said.

MBM Consulting were engaged to conduct the efficiency review by Northern NSW Local Health District.

MBM Consulting visited Grafton and Maclean hospitals on Tuesday, and Ballina and Lismore Base yesterday to meet with staff.

Mr Milman said that if the jobs were axed, the already stretched nursing staff would be placed under more pressure and required to do more work.

"The impact on the nurses would be profound because the wardsmen are the health and security assistants and many of the hospital assistants also act as wardsmen," he said.

"They conduct the CPR, they help move the patients around, they turn the patients and they assist in giving medication."

The HSU supports the efficiency review, but opposes any privatisation.

"We are completely opposed to any privatisation," Mr Milman said.

The HSU expects to receive the MBM Consulting review in six months.

The Northern NSW LHD did not respond to questions by deadline.

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