Nurses vow to continue campaign

OFFICIALS from the Queensland Nurses Union say they won't allow the State Government to distract them from their fight against the privatisation of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

The union has accused Queensland Health director-general, Tony O'Connell, of using bullying tactics when he wrote to them threatening court action over what he claimed was the unlawful use of a photo in anti-privatisation pamphlets.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg denied his department was trying to intimidate the union, claiming it was merely reminding officials they did not have permission to use the photo.

The union has been told to remove the image - an artist's impression of SCUH - and apologise for breaching copyright laws.

QNU secretary Beth Mohle said the union's lawyers were preparing a response to the letter, which ironically landed on her desk an hour before she joined a health estimates protest last Wednesday.

"They are certainly trying to shut down debate as best they can," she said. "We should not be focused on a debate over the copyright of an image when the main issue is they are privatising our public health system."

Ms Mohle said the move was "emblematic of other bullying and intimidation going on across Queensland Health".

"It's part of an overall plan to silence the opposition of people questioning.

"Bundaberg and the payroll inquiry both happened because there wasn't an open culture of questioning and debate. This is really bad for a healthy culture."

The union has printed a new series of information pamphlets for distribution, minus the image in question.

Ms Mohle said they would continue to provide a platform for the voices that needed to be heard against the privatisation of the hospital.

"This is a serious issue for the community that wasn't telegraphed before the state election," she said. "The Sunshine Coast deserves a full tertiary facility and we are concerned (privatisation) will compromise it."

She said a former LNP government's attempt to privatise the Robina hospital had resulted in its return to public hands in a matter of years.



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