Women being screened for breast cancer will no longer receive specialist counselling as a result of a new round of staff redundancies by St Vincent’s Hospital.

Three specialist Counsellors who are qualified Social Workers will lose their jobs from 1 July 2013 under the move by St Vincent’s Hospital to cut breast screening costs.

“This blatant attempt to save a few dollars will reduce the standard of patient care and leave vulnerable women worse off,” said Craig McGregor, Secretary of the Health Professionals’ Union which represents the specialist counsellors.

“It is not good enough for St Vincent’s to replace qualified and experienced counsellors with nurses.

“Women who are undergoing breast cancer screening are often in a psychologically vulnerable state and need access to high quality personal counselling.

“Instead of cutting the number of qualified counsellors, St Vincent’s should be increasing them.

“The national breast screening accreditation scheme recommends the use of qualified counsellors to support patients in addition to nurses.

“However only two out of the eight breast screen assessment services run for Victorian women currently have specialist counsellors and this move by St Vincent’s will reduce the standard of service even further.

“These redundancies will leave women undergoing breast screening worse off and yet are estimated by St Vincent’s to save a mere $28,000 a year in salaries.

“This is clearly a backward step in terms of providing the best support for women undergoing breast screening.

“The union strongly urges St Vincent’s hospital management to think again and withdraw the redundancies,” said Mr McGregor.

Media contact:
Craig McGregor ph 0477 411 004