The truth about Grafton Base

FEDERAL Health Minister Nicola Roxon's visit to Grafton yesterday couldn't have come at a better time.

If she was told the truth, and one can only hope she was, she would now realise our local hospital is in a state of disarray.

The hospital is under-staffed, poorly equipped and according to our source, morale is at an all time low.

Around the same time the Health Minister was meeting with hospital executives, I was listening to a senior employee of the hospital expose the present crisis the hospital was facing.

The talk about job cuts in the North Coast Health Service has become reality at Grafton Base.

All but a few of the administration staff worked over Christmas after all were ordered to take three weeks of their holiday leave.

This tied up nurses who found they had no-one to answer phones in the wards or to search for vital medical records.

Word is strong at the hospital that the High Dependency Unit of five beds is about to be shut and relocated to Level Three Medical taking up much needed beds from that ward.

Some kitchen staff have already been axed and more are expected to go in the coming months and the same applies to maintenance staff.

What is hurting the most, however, is that work for casuals has been cut back to bare minimums.

Some casuals are finding that while they may be named on the two-week roster, they get to work only to be told to go back home. This means instead of getting a full shift they are being paid for just two hours.

This doesn't apply to anyone rostered for Emergency. No-one is sent home early from the busiest department in the hospital our source said.

While the North Coast Area Health Service won't be happy, we should applaud the senior staff member who stepped out of the shadows to blow the whistle on the hospital situation.

If you also work at the hospital and are concerned about what's happening at the moment I would be glad to speak with you confidentially.

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