Thursday, March 15, 2012

@barryofarrell wage cuts push nurses to private sector #Ausunions #NSWisconsin


LEAVING Bankstown Hospital after 16 years was a wrench, but an extra $250 a fortnight tempted Sue Zacharias.
The registered nurse and mother of two was also attracted by ''flexibility in rostering, which is more family friendly'' at Hurstville's private The Surgery Centre. A $5000 sign-on fee - unprecedented in NSW - is the centrepiece of the hospital's quest to suck experienced nursing staff out of the over-stretched public system.
But it also offers free meals and parking, salary packaging, performance bonuses and above-award pay to compete for staff as an international nursing shortage - the consequence of insufficient training, increased demand and workforce ageing - bites harder across the state.
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Mrs Zacharias's colleague Nicholas Edwards, who defected after 19 years at St George Hospital, said public sector nurses had been demoralised by relentless cost-cutting - right down to the removal of free biscuits.
''Nurses are forever on their feet and can't even get to the toilet, let alone a food break, so they just want to be able to grab a quick coffee and a bickie or two,'' he said.
The hospital's director of clinical services, Matt Mackay, said mature and experienced operating theatre nurses were in particularly high demand. ''The surgeons are all specialists and you've got to have a nurse who knows her instrumentation as well as they do,'' he said.
The general secretary of the NSW Nurses' Association, Brett Holmes, said if such benefits became commonplace they could spell disaster for public hospitals, amid the NSW government's 2.5 per cent public sector pay increase cap.
Many nurses still preferred public hospital work because of generally better conditions, Mr Holmes said, but private hospitals offered modern working environments and control over workload.
According to NSW Health projections, public hospitals will need 38 per cent more registered nurses by 2028 - an extra 15,000 from the current 40,000 - to meet demand from a growing and ageing population. Enrolled nurse numbers need to nearly double to 13,000.

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