More staff for Ballina

Extra nurses in emergency department

Ballina District Hospital nurses have won increased staff in the emergency department after the NSW Nurses’ Association took up their case.

As The Lamp reported last month, the union branch at the hospital first raised concerns about ED staffing last October after two critical incidents.

The hospital’s Reasonable Workloads Committee recommended more staff but the North Coast Area Health Service rejected the request.

The union went to the Industrial Relations Commission to seek additional nursing hours on all shifts.

The Commission recommended an extra 10 nursing hours per day including two hours on the morning shift and eight hours between 9.30am and 6pm.

The Commission did not meet the union’s request for a second RN on night shift. Instead it recommended a designated on-call nurse be rostered for night duty for a three-month trial.

Union branch president at the hospital, Rita Lewis, said the additional daytime hours were ‘a very good win, we’re very happy with that. But we feel a permanent second nurse on night duty is important for the safety of both patients and staff.’

Rita said many staff were not happy about working on-call.

‘A lot of people live a long way from the hospital and others are single mothers who can’t leave their children alone at home at night, so it will cause a few problems.

‘An on-call arrangement doesn’t solve the problem that in the event of an emergency, the in-charge-of-hospital nurse would have to move from the ward to the ED, leaving the ward short-staffed until the on-call nurse is able to arrive,’ she said.