Skinner flags she will meet with hospital staff council

After months of frustrated campaigning, Health Minister Jillian Skinner has confirmed she will meet with Orange Health Service staff representatives regarding concerns about staff treatment.

The Orange Health Service Medical Staff Council has sought a meeting with Mrs Skinner for months, concerning the Western NSW Local Health District’s (LHD) failure to follow procedure across multiple departments, including the standing down of Dr David Amos in March, which also spurred a no-confidence motion in the LHD’s management. 

She had so far declined to meet while negotiations with Dr Amos continued – he returned to work on Friday.

When Mrs Skinner was asked on Tuesday whether she would meet with the staff council following the release of the report into Dr John Grygiel’s treatment of cancer patients, she answered, “not on this occasion”.

“But I will be coming back in the near future to meet with the council,” she said.

Although no date has been confirmed, staff council chair Dr Ruth Arnold welcomed the news, saying the concerns extended beyond Dr Amos’ case and staff had felt let down by the minister.

“As a council that represents the doctors, it’s been very disappointing,” she said.

“The ministry and the health minister seem to want to leave the problems with the district but if the problem is how the staff are treated by the district, where do we go with that?

“Even if people can’t help you or fix your concerns, even if they at least listen, that would make you feel more valued as a member of the organisation.” 

Cabonne deputy mayor Lachie MacSmith had been independently lobbying for a meeting through parliamentary secretary for western NSW Sarah Mitchell with little success.

“I know [Mrs Skinner’s] got a heap of problems, but so does everyone else – I would hate to lose doctors,” he said.

Western NSW Local Health District chief executive Scott McLachlan said on Tuesday the LHD was well on its way to addressing some of the concerns.

“We’ve sat down with the executive now, we’re meeting [on Wednesday] and have a series of meetings setup for the future,” he said.

Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord and Labor candidate for Orange Bernard Fitzsimon met briefly with the staff council following their press conference on the Grygiel report on Tuesday to listen to their concerns.

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