Bulli Hospital Special Health Accommodation Dispute

The HSU recently became aware of the planned opening of Bulli Special Health Accommodation (SHA) utilising the ‘IRT’ side of Bulli Hospital, which was identified to accommodate Port Kembla’s Rehabilitation and Palliative Care departments.

HSU contacted management to advise the Union would be putting this matter into dispute, as there had been no consultation with the Union in accordance with the Health Employees Conditions of Employment (State) Award.

We did receive a response from ISLHD, which you can view at this link. However, this response did not address the concerns initially raised and stated the District would proceed with the changes on Monday 13 September despite the HSU invoking ‘status quo’ until our members had time to consult on the changes. As such, we had no option but to lodge a dispute in the Industrial Relations Commission.

Following lodgement of the dispute, the HSU received a further reply from ISLHD to address member concerns. Please see responses below (provided verbatim from an email from management):

  1. SHA managed by ISLHD – The Bulli SHA will be operated by ISLHD, however it is not considered a health facility in the traditional sense. A number of hotel accommodation options were considered as the location of the SHA, but these didn’t meet the requirements of the SHA (eg, in terms of the air-conditioning requirements). The vacant side of BHACC satisfied the requirements of the SHA and on this basis became the viable option for establishment of the SHA.

    The SHA is viewed as an accommodation facility for covid positive members of the community that are not able to isolate safely at home, and who do not need to be managed in a covid ward. They will be managed via virtual care, and do not receive medication whilst at the SHA. Should they require hospitalisation, they will be transferred out of the SHA and to a hospital facility such as Wollongong Hospital’s covid ward.

    The SHA will be staffed by NSW Health employees in nursing and administration. Security and cleaning staff will be staffed via external contractors at this stage (see below).
  2. Workforce – ISLHD will be undertaking external advertising for security and cleaning positions required for the SHA. Given the urgency with which the SHA was required to be established, external recruitment was not a viable option in the first instance. This is why EOI’s went out to casual staff. It is anticipated that external recruitment will take approximately 6-8 weeks. As you know, we experience significant challenges in attracting suitable candidates for these positions, despite significant efforts to bolster our workforce. Should we be successful in external recruitment, the SHA can be staffed by security staff and cleaners that are ISLHD employees rather than engaging a contractor to provide these services.
  3. Vaccination and Fit testing – It is not considered that vaccinating and fit testing the staff working within the SHA will impact on the roll-out program across ISLHD. In relation to vaccinations, the staff are required to be fully vaccinated at commencement. In relation to fit-testing, a resource has been allocated to undertake fit-testing as part of the staff orientation at the SHA, with the use of a spare fit-testing unit. This is not going to impact on the fit-testing program across ISLHD’s three hubs (NIHG, SIHG, and SHG), who are continuing the program with their allocated resources and units.
  4. Food Service, Linen and Waste – ISLHD have been in discussions with HealthShare regarding the services that HealthShare provide. It is not considered that the increase in volume will have a significant impact on staffing in these areas. For example, the scheduling for linen pick-up will remain at twice weekly.  

We were also provided the slides for a briefing that the Chief Executive had previously presented to Bulli staff, which you can view here.

The HSU is seeking feedback from members regarding the four responses from ISLHD above by close of business Thursday 22 September 2021. Please provide your comments via email to your Organiser Eileen McEvoy via email eileen.mcevoy@hsu.asn.au with subject line Bulli SHA

There’s never been a more important time for health workers to stand together. If you know someone who is affected by the proposed changes, but hasn’t yet joined the Union, tell them to take the plunge today. Being an HSU member means support, solidarity and a voice at work. New members can join at www.hsu.asn.au/join or call 1300 478 679.