Nurses and midwives have been left in "distress" at the speed of the ACT government's takeover of Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation has said.
The union has expressed concern at a lack of consultation, saying this was actually required under the territory's nursing and midwifery enterprise agreement.
The agreement says the ACT public service "recognises that consultation and employee participation in decisions that affect them is essential to the successful management of change".
The union has also asked for clarity around palliative care services and Clare Holland House. The future of the hospice when the government takes over Calvary is yet to be decided.
But home-based palliative care services, run out of Clare Holland House, will operate under Canberra Health Services when the acquisition occurs.
The union's statement is the first since the government announced its plans to forcibly acquire the hospital earlier this month and is authorised by ANMF ACT branch secretary Matthew Daniel.
Legislation is expected to pass the territory's parliament next week and the hospital will be officially taken over by Canberra Health Services on July 3.
The ANMF's statement said the acquisition was not a conventional transfer of business but rather it was "the transfer of Canberrans' healthcare".
"It is a decision that goes to the health and wellbeing of all Canberrans, both right now and into the future," the statement said.
"This is important because it is a decision that is made absent the views and advice from Canberra's nurses and midwives."
The statement said Canberra Health Services and Calvary had different policies, procedures, governance arrangements, models of care and a different ethos.
The union questioned how all these matters would be worked through in only five weeks.
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"Such a thought has left nurses and midwives in distress," the statement said.
"This isn't to say nurses and midwives aren't also in distress because of the uncertainties and unknowns that now exist, both professionally and personally, including in regard to their future employment and what it means working for a different employer.
"This is nurses and midwives' livelihoods. Their careers."
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said it was not possible for the government to do this when the staff worked for another organisation.
But the union has also criticised Calvary. The statement said members felt Calvary had not worked collaboratively with the ACT government.
"As reported to the ANMF, it does not appear Calvary have genuinely considered the views of its workforce and do not appear to have sought to work collaboratively with the ACT government to ensure the health and wellbeing of their nurses and midwives, allowing the 'battlelines' and 'wargaming' to play out through the media," the statement said.
"And it's still not clear how cooperative Calvary will be, if and when the legislation is enacted."
The union has held forums with members at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce and at Clare Holland House.
"During these forums, Calvary's nurses and midwives asked many questions. Most questions could not be answered," the statement said.
The union also wanted to ensure both Clare Holland House and the community-based services remain publicly funded under the same operator.
Community-based palliative care services currently operated by Calvary will be taken over by Canberra Health Services.
"ANMF members are particularly distressed by the prospect of palliative care services at [Clare Holland House] being hived off and thus isolated as a result of the takeover as this will have significant and ongoing impacts on the quality and continuity of palliative care," the statement said.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the situation at Clare Holland House was more difficult. Like the Bruce public hospital, the hospice is funded by the territory government but is operated by Calvary.
She said the government had sought to enter into a separate agreement with Calvary over services at the hospice but Calvary considered it was part of the Bruce campus.
Conversations with Calvary are ongoing but Ms Stephen-Smith said the government wanted to consult with staff at Clare Holland House about its future.
The Health Minister said the home-based palliative care service had been separated from Clare Holland House because it had initially operated out of Calvary Public Hospital Bruce.
"Our position was that the home-based palliative care was captured under the Calvary network agreement [but] the hospice was not captured," Ms Stephen-Smith said.
Ms Stephen-Smith said there would be further consultation with staff at Clare Holland House.
"What we have heard very, very clearly from the staff at Clare Holland House and the leadership there is that they believe that the integrated service with home-based palliative care ... and with the hospice team needs to be maintained," she said.
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