Cough it up for Coffs: Nurses and midwives rally for ED relief

Mid North Coast nurses and midwives held an own-time rally today calling on the government to prioritise recruiting staff at Coffs Harbour Health Campus’ emergency department (ED).

Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) Coffs Harbour Hospital Branch said ED nurses were at breaking point, as they struggled with severe staffing shortages and a surge in patients.

Bureau of Health Information data for the January to March quarter showed ED presentations had risen by 10.6% compared to the same period last year. Presentations for triage category 1 (resuscitation) patients increased by a staggering 44.2%, and 19.2% for triage category 2 (emergency).

NSWNMA Coffs Harbour Hospital Branch President, Amanda Bailey-Derrett, said it was clear the ED was buckling under pressure, and it was up to the state government to step up and fix it.

“ED nurses are being stretched beyond their limit, as they try to cope with overwhelming numbers of patients while being chronically understaffed. This is impacting on their ability to provide safe patient care,” said Ms Bailey-Derrett.

“We know some of our ED nurses are looking elsewhere for work, including taking up agency positions and moving to Queensland where the pay and conditions are far better.

“We’ve been promised an extra triage nurse for morning and evening shifts, and an extra nurse to keep the paediatric zone open overnight. This is a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough in alleviating the extreme pressures being experienced in the ED.

“We desperately need nurse-to-patient ratios implemented in the ED. We are demanding the state government increases funding, recruits additional nurses, and opens more beds.

“If this doesn’t happen urgently, patient and staff safety will continue to be put at risk.”

NSWNMA members, along with other healthcare workers, highlighted their concerns and called for immediate government action at the lunchtime rally.

Join over 77,000 nurses and midwives in NSW by becoming a valued member today.

You’ll automatically become a member of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation