NURSES worried about the future of the south-west health sector joined forces with 250 protesters in Melbourne yesterday calling on the federal and state government to end their fight over healthcare funding.
With neither level of government conceding any ground in the debate, doctors and nurses vented their frustration in Treasury Gardens yesterday morning.
Warrnambool nurse practitioner and Australian Federation of Nurses (ANF) member Terry Swanson was among a carload of local health workers spurred into the debate after South West Healthcare (SWH) announced bed and theatre closures last week.
“It’s affecting our patients — it’s affecting our hospital locally and sometimes you need to make the effort to say we’re part of the issue and the solution,” Ms Swanson said.
No job cuts are planned for SWH but Ms Swanson said there were concerns vacant positions could remain unfilled, placing extra pressure on clinical staff.
One of those positions is at her wound management clinic in the newly-finished community health building.
“I have a staff member work on Tuesdays to meet demand but her contract runs out in June and it may be in jeopardy,” she said.
“I’m very proud of the way our hospital has managed things — but with $1.4 million out of the budget it’s going to hurt all around.”
Bad blood between the federal government and Spring Street has added to the frustration of health workers.
“The rot had set in before these cuts ... this is happening in the other states, it’s happening in Victoria,” Ms Swanson said.
The relatively small meeting attracted key speakers including state Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews, as well as speakers from the ANF and the Ambulance Employees Association.
An hour-long meeting between federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and her state counterpart David Davis on Friday failed to resolve the issue.