More nurses for Grafton


Union continues to push for increased ED support

Grafton Base Hospital’s emergency department is getting more nurses thanks to a determined campaign by the local branch of the NSW Nurses’ Association.

Management of North Coast Area Health Service agreed to most of the nurses’ demands, which were also supported by the hospital’s Reasonable Workload Committee (RWC).

However, nurses remain unhappy with aspects of the Area’s offer and the Union will continue to press for staffing improvements.

So far, Area management has agreed to:

  • Upgrade the nurse unit manager to NUM Level 2 and convert the position from 50% clinical time to a full-time manager.
  • Fund an extra 8-hour registered nurse shift seven days per week on the morning shift.
  • Fund an extra 4-hour registered nurse shift, seven days a week, on afternoon shift.
  • Provide an additional endorsed enrolled nurse for night duty, seven days a week.

NSWNA Assistant General Secretary, Judith Kiejda, said the union wrote to Area management asking it to reconsider its offer on night shift staffing.

‘The nurses have made a strong case to demonstrate that the third night nurse should be an RN rather than an EEN, and that they also need a ward clerk,’ Judith said.

‘The number of people presenting at Grafton Base with complex conditions has greatly increased over the past year. There has also been a big increase in the number of patients requiring transfer to another facility,’ she said.

RN and NSWNA branch delegate at the hospital, Jasmine Brown, said ED staff viewed the Area’s response as a positive move to address workload issues, especially with the NUM position becoming full-time non-clinical and upgraded to NUM 2.

‘However, we believe what we are asking for in addition to the Area’s offer is fair and reasonable. We hope the NCAHS executive will acknowledge the expertise nurses have to understand the needs of their workplace and provide the requested staffing,’ she said.

Jasmine said the night shift needed an identified triage nurse.

‘The triage and front door are geographically removed from the main department and one nurse must be able to respond immediately to the needs of triage. Emergency department nurses also respond to MET calls from the wards,’ Jasmine said.

Jasmine said staff could not understand Area management’s failure to recognise the need for clerical help on night shift.

‘Lack of clerical support makes the ED chaotic,’ she said.

‘In November 2005 the RWC recommended a month’s trial of a ward clerk but management refused.

‘In 2006-2007 Grafton Hospital had on average 12 presentations overnight. Entering clerical data and so forth for each presentation can take up to 15 minutes, meaning there can be up to three hours of clerical data entry per night.

‘On top of this, all incoming phone calls are received via the emergency department from midnight to 7am. With the introduction of a new computer system next year, Grafton nursing staff feel strongly that 24-hour clerical support is vital and we will continue to press for it.’