Lismore nurses reject staff cuts

Patients will suffer if plans to reduce staff levels in a mental health unit go ahead.

Mental health nurses at Lismore Base Hospital voted to close beds and start work bans if management moved to cut staff in the mental health unit.

The Lismore mental health branch of the NSWNMA took the decision after management announced that staffing would be reduced.

A unanimous resolution from the mental health branch said it was unsafe for patients and staff to treat the three mental health units as a single 40-bed operation.

The resolution advised that if staffing was reduced as management planned, nurses would have no choice but to protect patients by closing beds to match staff numbers provided.

If beds were already full nurses would apply work bans to a range of non-clinical tasks that would not affect patient safety. The bans would remain until patients had been discharged and beds could be closed.

“We are a very busy unit with high acuity and at times it is quite difficult to provide the specialised care that our clients require,” said branch president Gillian Turnbull (pictured left, with branch secretary Christopher Parker). “Patient care and safety will definitely be compromised if staff numbers are further reduced.

“This is a very serious issue for both nurses and our patients. Management’s plan to reduce staff numbers will have a significant negative impact on all concerned.

“Nursing staff do not agree that their work can be carried out safely with the number of nurses management intends to provide.”

Gillian said union representatives had met management several times to try to reach a solution, without success.

The dispute was before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission at the time of writing.