Emergency department nursing staff agreed to transfer into new facilities at Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital today, following positive proceedings in the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW (IRC) late Tuesday.
Tamworth Hospital Branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) was represented in the IRC, after Hunter New England Local Health District (HNE LHD) filed a dispute over the Branch’s refusal to relocate due to serious workload concerns in the emergency department.
Deputy President Harrison made several recommendations at the IRC, including that emergency department nursing staff transfer as scheduled, management separate the triage nurse and resuscitation nurse positions, and an additional four hours be available on the night shift as an interim position while further data analysis occurred.
General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said members of Tamworth Hospital Branch acknowledged the initial IRC outcomes as a positive step.
“We welcome the assistance of the Commission and the Deputy President because some real recognition of the concerns of our members has occurred,” Mr Holmes said.
“Our members welcome the separation of the resuscitation and triage roles within the emergency department, as well as the interim measure of an additional four nursing hours on night duty, as an improvement.
“We look forward to a proper assessment of the ED workloads and the necessary numbers to meet those increasing demands upon our members.”
Mr Holmes said it was positive the Deputy President had confirmed he would undertake a personal site inspection of the new facility next week, to see firsthand the situation members have concerns about and hopefully have an opportunity to speak with nursing staff.
Concerns over safe staffing and isolation issues within the hospital’s maternity service were also discussed at the IRC. Despite moving into the new maternity unit on Monday, Branch members maintained there is insufficient staff to cover the new birthing and postnatal units.
As a result, HNE LHD management agreed to release 4.82 full-time equivalent midwifery positions from the special care nursery back into the maternity unit and subsequently back-fill the nursery positions in addition. Deputy President Harrison will also inspect the maternity unit during his site inspection.
“In relation to maternity, we welcome the agreement from management to free up the positions from the special care nursery, which will help to relieve some of the concerns of our members,” said Mr Holmes.
Today, Branch members passed a resolution to continue accepting medical and surgical patients into the maternity unit, provided that appropriate nursing hours are allocated.
Both matters are subject to further conciliation before the IRC next month.
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