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Govt plan to use Bendigo Health CEO as mouthpiece in fight against nurses

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan, has spoken in Parliament of concerns that the Liberal National Government plan to use Hospital CEOs in its industrial campaign against nurses.

"The CEO of Bendigo Health should not be forced by the Liberal National Government to make public comments in support of the Government's plan to cut nurses."

Ms Allan said that leaked Cabinet documents revealed a communication strategy that included:

"allowing the health minister and selected health service CEOs to make public comments on the negotiations" and "selected hospital CEOs...commenting on the need for changed working arrangements".

Ms Allan told the Parliament, "that it is apparent the Government intends to use Hospital CEOs as its mouthpiece in its fight against the nurses."

"I would hope that this does not include the CEO of Bendigo hospital."

"Our region needs to be speaking with one voice against any cuts and the CEO of Bendigo Health, as a community leader has an important role in the local debate."

Ms Allan repeated her call that the Liberal National Government protect nurses at Bendigo Health and not have the government's axe swing through regional health services.

• Hansard attached

MEMBERS STATEMENTS

Nurses: enterprise bargaining

Ms ALLAN (Bendigo East) - Regional Victorians have been shocked to read of the extremes the Liberal-Nationals government will resort to in its secret plan to cut nurse numbers. This secret plan harks back to the last time the Liberal-Nationals coalition was in government, when thousands of nurses were sacked. It looks like the coalition is set to do it again. This secret plan, that according to media reports includes a Qantas-style lockout, will impact badly on regional and rural hospitals, and I am particularly concerned about the impact on the delivery of services to patients in my community at the Bendigo hospital.

Nurses at the Bendigo hospital do a fantastic job. Under Labor there was a dramatic increase in nurse numbers. We provided funding for over 280 additional nurses during our time in government and also started building Bendigo's new hospital. The secret plan, as outlined in cabinet documents, also included a communication strategy:
... allowing the health minister and selected health service CEOs to make public comments on the negotiations -and ... selected hospital CEOs ... commenting on the need for
changed working arrangements.

It is apparent the government intends to use hospital CEOs as its mouthpieces in its fight against the nurses.

I would hope that this does not include the CEO of the Bendigo hospital. Our region needs to be speaking with one voice against any cuts and the CEO of Bendigo Health, as a community leader has an important role in the local debate and should not be forced by the Liberal-Nationals government to make public comments in support of the government's plan to cut nurses.

I call on the Liberal-National government to protect nurses at Bendigo Health, to protect nurses at regional and rural and hospitals and to not have the government's axe swing through regional services.

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