NURSES at the Colac hospital are demanding the head of Colac Area Health (CAH) step down over claims of mismanagement and concerns for patient safety in the emergency department.
Hospital members of the Australian Nursing Fed-eration (ANF) unanimously passed a motion this week calling for Colac Area Health CEO Geoff Iles to resign.
They claim the past six years of Mr Iles’ tenure have been problematic and led to:
* the resignations of four directors of nursing and five acute nurse unit managers;
* a $1.4 million black hole in the hospital budget; and
* the closure of six beds in January.
The escalating situation comes as CAH still searches for ways to keep its emergency department open overnight after federal budget cuts forced the hospital board to close it from 11pm to 7am — a decision that has since been reversed.
The loss in confidence by staff in Mr Iles comes ahead of a meeting on Monday night between the hospital, Barwon Medicare Local and community members over the urgent care (emergency) unit.
Warrnambool-based ANF industrial organiser Peter Birch said pressure and frustration had spilled over for union members working at the hospital.
“It’s a revolving door and it’s really undermining the confidence of the staff,” Mr Birch said. “The members have got to the stage where they’re tired of the budgetary blow-outs. Their way of managing that debt is to put a lot of pressure on operations.”
He said CAH had also decided to remove a clinical co-ordinator position — an overall incident controller — and hand the responsibility to a head nurse in charge of the urgent care unit.
Mr Birch described the decision as unworkable and said it could potentially place patients at risk.
The hospital had also closed six beds in January this year, he said.
“It slipped under the radar because there was a lot about the overnight closure of the ED ... we’d like to see those six beds re-opened.”
Mr Iles played down the union’s claims, saying the turnover of staff was a reality of the industry.
“I have noted that they have called for my resignation and I will not be resigning,” Mr Iles said.
He said health services across the state were facing difficulties balancing their budgets. “Every health service is facing challenging times. Our challenge is no different to most of those other services.”
Mr Iles would not discuss the closures of the six beds or the removal of the clinical co-ordinator position.