Former employees of the Lismore Private Hospital wait outside for the receivers to arrive to advise them of their current situations in the company.
Former employees of the Lismore Private Hospital wait outside for the receivers to arrive to advise them of their current situations in the company. Jay Cronan

Staff crushed by hospital closure

MORE than 40 hospital workers face an uncertain future after receivers confirmed yesterday that Lismore Private Hospital operator Owen Ferguson Health had lost its licence to operate for breaching a number of conditions.

A group of distressed nurses, clerical staff and cleaners returned temporarily to their former workplace for the first time since its closure last Friday to be assured by Centrelink there would be no unnecessary delays for staff in accessing unemployment benefits.

Four Lismore nurses, who said they were advised by their former employer to not talk to media or jeopardise future employment, said they were ‘crushed’ by news on Wednesday that Owen Ferguson Health would relocate patients and put off its staff.

“A lot of us are living hand to mouth,” one nurse said.

But the majority of hospital workers said they remained dedicated to the hospital and its former patients.

“If we were asked to work here tomorrow, 90 per cent of us would,” one nurse said.

Owen Ferguson Health receiver, Morgan Kelly, of Ferrier Hodgson, said it was disappointing the hospital had to close, but the financial situation left no option.

“We hope that the hospital landlord, Australian Property Trustees, is able to find another hospital operator willing to take over the facility,” Mr Kelly said.

The receivers said they were working with the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to find job placements for staff left out of work.

NSW Nurses’ Association North coast organiser, Jo-Anne McKeough, said Owen Ferguson Health lost its licence due to a number breaches ,which included operating with no Director of Nursing.

St Vincent’s Hospital chairman Frank Hannigan said they were always interested in employing qualified staff.



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