Concern over healthcare workers' conditions at new Maitland Hospital

Health Services Union NSW secretary Gerard Hayes.
Health Services Union NSW secretary Gerard Hayes.

The Health Services Union has accused the state government of “a camouflaged attempt to slash staff conditions and job security” in plans for the new Maitland Hospital.

It comes after the government announced on Wednesday it had abandoned a public-private partnership in favour of a deal with a not-for-profit organisation. Unions say they have serious concerns about wages, staffing, job security and resource levels at the new hospital.

The government will preserve sick leave, long service leave, redundancy and parental leave entitlements for healthcare workers who take on a role at the new hospital, if they decide to return to a government-run hospital within the first year.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said employees at the new Maitland Hospital would have their existing conditions carried over for two years – then they would have to negotiate with the new provider.

HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the union was “deeply concerned that the state government is using the cover of a not-for-profit provider to slash wages, conditions and job security”.

“At this stage there are no guarantees of staffing levels or conditions,” he said.

“We also have no assurance the new provider will maintain the current level of resourcing.”

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association said the decision was “as bad as what we’d feared from a public-private partnership”.

“There will be no guarantees on staff-to-patient ratios after two years,” NSW general secretary Brett Holmes said.

“Staff wishing to move back into the public system will have to find an available position at Kurri Kurri, Cessnock or John Hunter themselves within the 12 month time-frame.”