Health union fears privatisation 

Illawarra health union representatives are concerned that the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District's medical imaging services could be privatised as the result of an executive review.

ISLHD management has met representatives from the Health Services Union and the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, as well as affected staff, to discuss the ongoing review.

Association regional organiser Mark Murphy said the nurses who worked in the service - responsible for CT scans, ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs and more - were concerned about their job security, working conditions and entitlements.

"Management are talking about looking at all options in the review, including managed services, which is basically private services," Mr Murphy said.

"The association is opposed to any privatisation of a public service. It seems to be the flavour of the moment for state and federal governments that privatising services is better but we know it's not.

"If a private company is brought in to run the service, what's going to happen to the 15 or so enrolled and registered nursing staff currently in these roles? Are they just going to be replaced with technicians or semi-skilled people?

"That's not good for the nurses, or the patients."

Health Services Union regional organiser Andrew Gorman said around 45 of the union's members worked in the district's medical imaging service - from radiographers and sonographers through to administration and management.

"At the moment, the review is at a management level but there is going to be a full review over the next six months, which could possibly lead to privatisation," he said.

"While our main concern is members' jobs and security, privatisation affects us all. A lot of the members are also worried about patient services and how it's going to affect the hospital."

Mr Gorman said the Wollongong imaging department was the "most efficient imaging department in the state".

"Wollongong is already at minimum staffing levels so I don't see how they could reduce staff considering they do over 120,000 scans and tests a year," he said.

An ISLHD spokeswoman said discussions with staff were continuing.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said last week that decisions regarding the service would be made at a district level.

"What I am interested in is what is in the best interests of patients, and if, by engaging others, not-for-profits or private sector, you get better outcomes for patients, then that should be on the table. It cannot be ruled out," she said.

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