Support strong for Cobar nurses

Cobar nurses went public and won strong public support for their actions

A delegation from the NSWNMA met the Member for Barwon, and state government minister, Kevin Humphries in November, to explain why Cobar nurses are concerned about staff numbers.

The delegation, including Cobar RN Genie McMullen, met Mr Humphries in Sydney to show him data relating to patient admissions and staff numbers that had been collected by the nurses.

“We wanted to show him evidence that district management had got things wrong, and that an on-call roster would actually save them money,” Genie said.

Mr Humphries told the NSWNMA that he subsequently phoned the chief executive of Western NSW Local Health District, Dr Pim Allen, who undertook to examine the nurses’ data.

A rally by hospital staff and supporters in the main street of Cobar, following the meeting with Mr Humphries, drew strong support from the public and was the lead story on Prime 7 nightly TV news.

While nurses at Cobar Hospital are being put under pressure, the Cobar local government area is making the state’s fourth biggest contribution to government coffers by way of royalties from its copper, gold, silver and lead mines, according to government figures.

Cobar mayor Lilliane Brady urged the public to attend the rally and show support for the nurses.

“The present government is slowly withering away all our services at the hospital,” she said.

The nurses also got the backing of Cobar Hospital’s three doctors, who wrote to NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner warning that “an adverse patient outcome is only waiting to happen” unless the rostering dispute is settled.

The letter said inadequate staffing during emergencies had forced nurses to “run around trying to manage the emergency while still trying to find colleagues who might be able to come in (sometimes this may take several calls), while a critically unwell patient’s care is also requiring attention.

“Hospitals like ours cannot be staffed by rostering models used by large teaching hospitals or bigger city hospitals. The bare minimum of staffing at any time has to be at least three,” the doctors wrote.