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Nurses Protest

Staff at Hawkesbury District Health Service are celebrating a huge win after Health NSW agreed to transfer leave entitlements when the running of Hawkesbury Hospital transfers from St John of God to the Department of Health at the end of June.

The announcement came on Tuesday (April 30th) following months of anxiety.

Hawkesbury District Health Service has been operated by St John of God Health Care for the past eight years since the service was transferred from Catholic Care which had run the hospital since 1996.

Over 700 staff at the 131-bed hospital were informed in March that their accrued annual and long service leave would not be transferred due to legal implications between private sector and public sector systems.

Nurses and midwives protested outside Hawkesbury Hospital at Windsor in their own time last week calling for a smooth and seamless transition, fearing they wouldn’t have any leave available from July 1.

Branch secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Hawkesbury District Health Service, Ben Wright, (representing over 200 staff) said the decision was a “huge relief”.

He said over 100 people had joined last week’s rally outside the hospital which was supported by both Liberal State MP Robyn Preston and Federal Labor MP Susan Templeman.

“We ran a petition on which received more than 2,000 signatures in just a weekend.” He said locals were very supportive of their stance.

Nurses Protest Outside Hawkesbury Hospital 24 Nurses Protest
Nurses protest outside hawkesbury hospital

He said the letter informing staff that entitlements could not be transferred but would be paid out was a “massive shock” to staff members and would have affected the “most loyal and hardworking” staff.

He said some staff had accrued hundreds of hours to take when they needed for surgery and recovery, family reasons or transition to retirement option. “It wasn’t about the money but about the time available to them and the tax bill.”

Staff were told on Tuesday afternoon (April 30th) that their entitlements would be transferred. “We are so grateful,” said Ben.

NSWNMA Hawkesbury District Health Service Branch Delegate, Ann Jackson, who has worked at the hospital for almost 30 years, said it showed what could be achieved when members and the community banded together.

“So many healthcare workers and their families came together to support our own-time rally last week, and it really demonstrated what a fantastic community we have in the Hawkesbury.

Time off with our families is priceless. We are so pleased the government has now recognised this and has found a solution that allows us to keep our well-earned leave entitlements,” she said.

“We are very appreciative to the NSWNMA, NSW Health and St John of God Health Care for working together to resolve this for us.”

NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said it was a fantastic result for Hawkesbury’s hardworking nurses and midwives.“We thank the NSW Government and St John of God Health Care for working collaboratively with us on this issue to achieve a positive outcome for staff.

We know this has been an incredibly stressful and anxious time for our members, so this decision means a lot to them and their families.”

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