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Nepean Hospital at crisis point

Fed up nurses and midwives will protest continued vacancies, in their own time, of around 42 permanent full time positions and 58 temporary positions at Nepean Hospital today, WEDNESDAY, 14 NOVEMBER.

Members from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) Nepean Hospital branch have been raising concerns since June when an NSWNMA investigation of 2017 staffing levels uncovered over 6,000 hours of missed nursing care.

Nurses and midwives say current staffing levels are putting patient safety at risk and are urgently calling on the government to introduce nurse to patient ratios to keep up with growing demand at the busy Western Sydney Hospital.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said midwifery shortages at Nepean were of particular concern.

“Significant shortages of midwives has resulted in non-midwives covering vacancies, which leads to reduced education around breastfeeding and increased readmissions of babies post discharge. On average, women birthing at Nepean Hospital are being sent home a whole day earlier compared to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney’s North,” said Mr Holmes.

Nepean Hospital’s emergency department also recorded the worst treatment times in the state for the second time in September’s quarterly results, with staff highlighting the problems of a static workforce amid increased demand.

“Western Sydney’s population is growing at a rapid rate and the acuity and complexity of patients has significantly increased. We desperately need the right number of nurses to match the number of patients in the area and ratios is the only way to ensure that,” said Mr Holmes.

The branch is demanding that the vacancies be filled and a more reliable staffing system implemented that provides guaranteed minimum ratios in every ward, on every shift. This will create a safer environment for patients and a clear understanding of how many patients nurses and midwives have to care for.

To date, the Berejiklian Government has refused to commit to a more transparent nurse-to-patient Ratios system, which would deliver safer staffing to public hospitals across NSW.