The state budget has allocated $40 million to increase service capacity at newly built facilities across the state but the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) believes the funding has come 12 months too late. Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital was nominated to receive a portion of the additional funding, which the NSWNMA expects will be properly distributed to fix the ongoing staffing issues at the new hospital.
Brett Holmes, General Secretary of the NSWNMA, said there was no excuse for such an extended delay in funding because the Association had warned about staffing levels well ahead of the hospital’s opening in January this year.
“The state government has recognised the service demand increase 12 months too late. We can’t sit around and wait six months after the hospital has opened for essential funding that should have been allocated in the previous budget,” Mr Holmes said.
“The situation at Wagga Wagga is a common problem we’re seeing at new facilities statewide. Money is thrown at the construction of new facilities without equivalent support for staffing over the long-term.”
Applications for a recent recruitment drive to fill approximately 36 full time equivalent (FTE) nursing and midwifery positions at Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital close on Thursday, 30 June.
However, branch officials feel the recruitment drive should have been implemented much sooner and are concerned that the number of agency personnel being recruited will result in an unsustainable staffing profile. Mr Holmes said nurse-to-patient ratios and enforced Birthrate Plus were the only way to make sure staffing complies with the growing critical care demands on our public health services.
“We welcome the 65 additional full time equivalent nursing positions allocated for NSW in this budget but if we’re to manage the growing strain on our public hospitals, we need to consider sustainable staffing solutions, such as nurse-to-patient ratios and enforced Birthrate Plus in our maternity services,” said Mr Holmes.
“Legally enforceable ratios mandate a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio based on nursing hours and are especially important in regional hospitals, where nursing hours per patient day are often allocated at a lower rate than their metropolitan counterparts.”
Download this media release: NSW budget recognises gross underestimation of Wagga hospital demand