Members from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association’s (NSWNMA) Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital branch have resolved to close surge beds from Thursday next week until overtime and skill mix issues are addressed.
There are currently 30 full time equivalent (FTE) nursing and midwifery positions vacant, despite an ongoing recruitment drive by the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD). Branch officials feel it has come too little too late with staff highly stressed and emotionally drained from the extreme amounts of overtime.
Management met with NSWNMA organisers last night in an attempt to resolve the ongoing staffing issues. No resolution was agreed to on the basis that these vacancies continue.
Brett Holmes, General Secretary of the NSWNMA said nurses and midwives are very concerned about their patient’s safety and being able to deliver the care they require.
“We’ve heard scenarios of Assistants in Nursing (AiNs) standing in for experienced registered nurses (RNs) to troubleshoot and take on patient loads. AiNs should not be expected to perform tasks like this that go beyond their training,” Mr Holmes said.
“In the interest of patient safety and their own wellbeing, branch members have made the decision to close the additional 17 hospital capacity surge beds that are ordinarily only used as a last resort. These beds, which are currently being used to meet patient demand, will remain closed until the hospital is safely staffed to our members’ clinical judgement. They are also of the view that reducing the elective surgery list for a period of time would assist in slowing down the occupancy and use of these surge beds.
“Members have also advised the Wagga Wagga Health Service Executive that they will no longer clean beds or take linen bags and waste to the central waste disposal point on their respective level. This has been an ongoing workload problem, which has been raised with management over the past several months and has not been addressed.
“Our members are exhausted and burnt out. Despite management’s efforts to recruit to sustainable levels, the hospital is still significantly understaffed. We hope the latest decisions from the branch will provide some relief until management fills all the vacant full-time positions.”
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