Hospitals already buckling as presentations jump

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has urged the NSW Government to bring forward its planned 5,000 health ‘workforce boost’, as promised at the last election, in light of the evolving COVID-19 crisis and increased pressures on emergency departments.

The latest Bureau of Health Information quarterly data shows emergency departments already experienced unprecedented strain during October to December last year, after recording the highest ever number of patient presentations.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the call for extra nursing staff to be allocated immediately is justified to meet growing demand and the added pressure public hospitals are now experiencing due to COVID-19.

“Nurses and midwives were already facing burn-out and fatigue after a difficult winter, but they pushed on through summer and the devastating bushfire season, only to be confronted with the global health crisis that is COVID-19,” said Mr Holmes.

“We implore the NSW Government to acknowledge its own hospital data. Yet again, it shows just how much nurses are battling on, feeling under-resourced, unsupported and under mounting pressure.

“The government promised 5,000 extra nurses and midwives at the last election, with the majority to be allocated in the latter part of their four-year term.

“These numbers out today show the government must urgently bring its planned workforce boost forward.

“We appreciate the government’s broader public health response towards tackling COVID-19 to date, but we have not seen enough towards boosting frontline nursing staff numbers across the state.

“The government must seriously consider introducing mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in our public hospitals, particularly a ratio of one nurse to three patients in our emergency departments.

“It’s time the nursing and midwifery workforce was acknowledged by the government and given the recognition they deserve for keeping our public hospitals running day in, day out.”

According to the October to December data, Port Macquarie Base Hospital was again one of the busiest in the state, with a 13.3% rise in emergency department presentations compared to the same quarter in 2018. Dubbo Base Hospital recorded an 11.9% rise in its emergency department attendances, while presentations to Mount Druitt Hospital in Western Sydney jumped 11% for the quarter.

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