Saturday 22nd December 2007
Extra staff brings relief to exhausted nurses at Bowral Hospital.
Approval of more staff will ease excessive nurse workloads in the busy 36-bed Milton Park ward at Bowral Hospital.
Sydney South West AHS recently approved a ward clerk during the week and an endorsed enrolled nurse or an assistant in nursing for both the evening and night shifts. ‘The branch is elated with the outcome,’ said Branch Secretary, Deb Ponig, CNS.
Nurses had been suffering heavy workloads for long periods over several years. This was brought to the attention of the branch in February this year during a very busy period. ‘Our ward was frequently full and we were experiencing very heavy workloads due to the mix of elderly patients, acute medical and surgical patients, drug health and mental health patients,’ said Patricia Wright, RN.
‘We were short staffed and facing excessive workloads most days. The ward was busy due to the patient mix and we were simply overworked and losing morale. Patient care became task oriented, as we simply didn’t have the time for more rounded care.
‘We were frequently going without proper breaks, critical incidents were reported and patients and relatives began showing aggression towards the nurses. We were stretched to the limit.’
With the backing of the NSWNA, the Branch decided to present its case to the hospital’s Reasonable Workloads Committee (RWC).
Over a four-week period, nurses documented important issues including the number of patients, staffing ratios, overtime and meal breaks.
‘Workloads was a major problem for nurses. People were burning out, it even resulted in the resignation of a valued member of staff,’ said Deb Ponig.
‘The workloads tool identified the need for an extra nurse on both the night and evening shift, as well as a ward clerk. We really needed these extra pairs of hands.
‘By collecting data and applying the tool we were able to show our case and the results were stark. It was clear we needed extra staff not simply organisational changes.
‘We are a small branch but by persevering and seeking the help of the Association we were able to get great results.
‘You need the material data to prove a case so never say you are too busy to fill in workloads forms.’
Patricia encourages other nurses facing workload stress to work collectively and seek backing from the Association.
If you have a workloads concern or want more information about the Reasonable Workloads Committee and workloads issues as governed by the Public Hospital State Award, contact the Association on 1300 367 962.