Resolution to close beds

At a Special General Meeting at Olympic Park on 24 November members unanimously passed a resolution to close hospital beds if the NSW Government does not meet the NSWNA demand for ratios.

‘This Special General Meeting resolves that:

Public health system nurses and midwives will start closing hospital beds so that safe patient care can be provided from 7 am on Wednesday 1 December.

The NSW Government can stop these bed closures by giving the Nurses’ Association a constructive offer about ratios, as well as pay and conditions, by no later than 7am Tuesday 30th November. If NSWNA Council believes there are reasonable prospects of progressing the offer to a proposed settlement no later than 13 December, 2010, Council may delay the commencement of the bed closures to progress negotiations.  Any proposed settlement of the NSWNA 2010 Award claim will be determined by a vote of NSWNA Branches.

One2four Action Plan – Bed Closures and Service Restriction

During the bed closure plan all patients who require emergency care will be provided with that care.

Exempted Areas:

The bed closure plan to ensure safe patient care will occur in all wards and units except for the following exempted areas:

  • oncology patients
  • palliative care patients
  • haemodialysis patients
  • maternity wards/units where occupied by maternity patients
  • paediatric beds where occupied by paediatric patients
  • Emergency Departments, including Psychiatric Emergency Care Centres
  • Intensive Care Units, Coronary Care Units and High Dependency Units
  • terminations of pregnancy
  • Category 1 and emergency surgery, and emergency and priority diagnostic procedures and booked caesarian sections.

The plan includes:

  • 1 in 4 ‘operational beds’ will be closed on every ward/unit in public hospitals and health services.  Beds that are generally closed or not regularly used, such as ‘surge’ beds, will not be opened.
  • 1 in 4 booked operations or the equivalent in Operating Theatres will be cancelled, including endoscopy and day surgery.
  • 1 in 4 outpatient appointments will be cancelled.
  • 1 in 4 non-urgent home visits and clinic appointments by community health and community mental health nurses will be cancelled.
  • In addition, up to 3 additional beds on every ward/unit will be closed and reserved for clinically-determined emergencies.
  • residential aged care patients assessed as needing high care accommodation will not be discharged or transferred to low care facilities.

All normal staffing rosters will be maintained including the replacement of staff on leave during the action.  Nursing staff on wards and units who are additional to those needed to provide safe patient care due to bed closures will work as additional support in Emergency Departments, if requested by their Emergency Department colleagues.’

Stop press

After the successful strike on 24 November, the NSWNA Council decided to lift the plan for bed closures after the State Government finally gave NSW Health the authority to engage in constructive talks about our ratios and skill mix claim.

For the past seven months, the Department would only negotiate about pay and other aspects of the claim. Ratios were immediately dismissed as not for negotiation.

It was the strong, resolute action of members throughout the State to strike that was the direct catalyst for this change of position by the Government.

However, beds will be closed if there is not meaningful progress in the talks.