Wednesday 3rd August 2011
Nurse ratios are commencing in 64 wards in NSW Public Hospitals.
The new ratios/nursing hours per patient day (NHPPD) system is being implemented in the first group of public hospital wards selected by the NSWNA and NSW Health. The majority of wards in this first group should be converted by the end of August.
The conversion of this first group, will result in around 180 extra nursing positions.
MacLean District Hospital has two wards that are eligible for additional staffing under the new award. Both wards have significant problems with staffing, according to Jen Smith, RN and Branch Secretary at MacLean District Hospital.
Level 2 is among the first group of wards to convert to the new ratios system. Level 2 will receive an additional 3.38 FTE nursing positions.
‘Like many small district hospitals, MacLean District Hospital has significant problems getting staff. Most nurses are highly experienced and some have been here for a long time but the relentless workload is very wearing. Staff can get injuries and become sick partly because of the pressure,’ said Jen. ‘So, we are all delighted with the extra positions. It’s a great start.
‘Level 1 has 22 beds and six surge beds, so it’s staffed for 22 beds but 28 beds could be occupied. In the afternoon shift, there are often only three nurses for 22 beds. That means a ratio of one nurse to seven patients in an acute ward. If we’re hitting surge beds extra staff are called in. It can be difficult at times to get staff in at short notice,’ said Jen. Unfortunately, Level 1 ward was not in the first round of increased staffing allocation.
‘If a patient has to be transferred and needs a nurse escort and staff are not available at short notice one of the RNs or ENs can be taken from the ward,’ said Jen. ‘Our NUM or Nurse Manager can spend a significant amount of time looking for staff.’
Jen says the extra nursing positions will make a big difference to nurse workloads and staff morale. On Level 2 there is currently no clerical support staff and the NUM is required to do admin duties. The extra staff will assist the NUM with her workload, so that she will be able to focus on higher-level clinical duties.
‘The DoN wrote to existing part-time and casual staff asking whether they wanted to convert to increased hours or become permanent. I work part time and I plan to increase my hours,’ said Jen.
For more information on which wards are to be converted click HERE (http://www.nswnurses.asn.au/news/34770.html -title: Information About New Public Health System Jobs)