Community specialties under the pump

Community nurse Chris McMillan addressed a rally in Coffs Harbour and described how the burden on different community specialties had increased dramatically.

“People are being pushed out of the hospital at a faster rate than ever,” she said. “In all strands of specialised community care: community nursing, CAPACS, cardiac rehab, pulmonary rehab, respiratory liaison, stoma and continence, palliative care, Aboriginal health, diabetes and chronic care – the demand has increased without an increase in staff.

“In all these services patients are being moved into the community a lot quicker. Often these patients rebound back to hospital due to the shortage of specialised community nursing staff to cover the needs of these patients.

“In the past five years you have had two extra surgeons plus a urologist and a gynaecologist come into our area. The impact on a specialty like stoma continence nursing has been enormous. We have one full-time stoma nurse and one part-time continence nurse.

“They cover an area from Scots Head in the south to Half Way Creek in the north and to Dorigo in the mountains. That is a huge, huge area.

“All across the specialties the number of patients is increasing with the same number of staff. It’s demanding but the government is doing nothing.”