Concerns for hospital's future

THERE are fresh concerns about the future of the Bellinger River District Hospital as a standalone full service facility.

At a recent Bellingen Health Action Group (BHAG) meeting, a NSW Nurses Association representative said the hospital had been virtually amalgamated with the Macksville Hospital.

BHAG chair Pia Dollmann said the Nurses Association had lodged a complaint with the Industrial Commission about the shared management of the two hospitals.

“The amalgamation of the two hospitals took place early this year without consultation with hospital staff and was a surprise fait accompli with the announcement of the acceptance of redundancy by Bellingen Hospital Manager Vince Caroll,” Ms Dollmann said.

“Mr Carroll’s workload was around 60 hours a week, acting in two positions for two hospitals, as the Executive Officer and Director of Nursing for Bellingen and Dorrigo.

“While Dorrigo hospital is now managed from Coffs Harbour, the acting EO/DoN, Jenny Zirkler, has taken over this workload in addition to the same position she held in Macksville.

“Ms Zirkler is now in Bellingen two days per week and we can presume she requires more support than Mr Carroll needed from the Nurse Unit Manager. Common sense and arithmetic abilities enable us to deduce from this situation that the work still has to be done by someone and that this presumably filters down through the hierarchy and shifts work load from and responsibility to other nursing staff.”

Ms Dollmann said following the complaint by the Nurses Association, the Industrial Commissioner had ordered that an independent assessor review the shared management of the Bellingen and Macksville hospitals at the end of June.

“He has virtually declared until June 30 a trial period and has indicated that the management structure might need to be reversed in the situation is seemed untenable by the independent assessor,” Ms Dollmann said.

“An outcome in favour of the NSW Nurses Association request will be welcome.”

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