Public protests and lobbying over staff shortages at Coffs Harbour Hospital have paid off, with the allocation of another night shift nurse to the Emergency Department.
Coffs Harbour nurses see this as a breakthrough in their campaign for one more nurse per shift, with one more night nurse the priority.
The NSW Nurses’ Association Branch Secretary at the hospital, Amanda Short, said ED nurses were prepared to abandon the recently-introduced electronic medical records system and return to paper records if North Coast Area Health Service did not approve a fifth night nurse.
Amanda said the Branch would now press ahead with the campaign to get extra staff on morning and afternoon shifts.
‘Extra staff is about reducing waiting times for patients. In particular an extra nurse on mornings and afternoons would allow the Clinical Initiatives Nurse to go back to looking after patients in the waiting room instead of having to be pulled back into the department, leaving patients in the waiting room unattended,’ she said.
Along with a public rally and media publicity, nurses used the hospital’s Reasonable Workloads Committee to put their case for an additional night nurse.
NSWNA Branch President and Councillor Sue White said the Branch’s presentation to the committee was supported by a site inspection and report by the NSWNA Occupational Health and Safety Co-ordinator.
Sue said the report identified many problems related to understaffing in the ED, with night shift the most urgent case. ‘Now that we have got a result for night shift we are putting in a submission to the workloads committee for extra staff on morning and evening shifts,’ she said.
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