Dubbo nurses work together to relieve workloads

Action by NSWNA members at Dubbo Base Hospital has improved maternity workloads

Midwives at Dubbo Base Hospital’s maternity unit are about to sign off on a permanent on-call roster designed to relieve workloads and improve skill mixes.

Dubbo midwife Kylie Jeffries RM said the maternity unit, with 14 beds in postnatal, six cots in special care nursery, plus another four beds in the labour ward, was regularly short staffed.

‘Midwives have been regularly working with an excess of patients in postnatal and up to nine babies in the special care nursery with no extra staff,’ she said.

‘It feels like things are improving for us and we’ve had an opportunity to have a say in the changes. In times like these, it is important for nurses to stand up together and support each other,’ she said.

Last year, frustrated midwives, who deliver over 1300 babies in Dubbo each year, decided to get proactive and, with the help of the Association, began working with management to improve their conditions by developing an on-call roster for the Christmas break.

They are also involved in a review of the escalation plan and are considering the option of creating 12-hour shifts.

‘We’re making forward progress but we are still concerned. The roster is helping with the night shift but, basically, we still need more midwives, particularly during the day.

In recent months, the Dubbo branch has had to band together to resist a raft of seemingly knee-jerk changes proposed by the GWAHS, following a series of highly-public management and funding problems last year.

A successful campaign by the NSWNA in February prevented 136 job losses across the Greater Western Area Health Service region.

In the latest attempt to cut costs, the GWAHS had planned to completely restructure the NUMs across Dubbo Base Hospital.

Members identified there were absolutely no monetary savings to be gained – only an increase in workloads and a potentially destabilising effect on the entire facility.

‘Morale across the hospital is much better,’ said Kylie. ‘Other issues like stock problems also seem to be improving.’