Smoke and mirrors hamper important Tamworth meeting

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has signalled its profound disappointment, after a meeting to discuss critical staffing concerns at Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital failed to achieve any long term solutions.

Local nurses, midwives, the Tamworth Hospital Branch secretary and senior staff met with Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson, Hunter New England Local Health District (HNE LHD) Chief Executive Michael Di Rienzo and local management in Tamworth late yesterday.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, who was excluded from the local meeting despite being in Tamworth, said members of the Tamworth Hospital Branch were not convinced long term outcomes had been reached for the maternity unit or emergency department.

“Despite an extraordinary meeting that ran into the evening, it appears HNE LHD management is only prepared to consider very short term ‘fixes’ to the ongoing staffing issues which have plagued both the emergency department and maternity unit,” Mr Holmes said.

“We are not convinced that the reallocation of a community midwifery position to the night shift – rather than new midwifery resources dedicated to the maternity unit – and yet another review of procedures throughout the unit itself, is a real outcome.

“It’s unfortunate HNE LHD management appears only prepared to shuffle the deckchairs instead of upholding the delivery of safe patient care at all times for the people of Tamworth and the surrounding regions.

“We are also far from convinced that moving one nursing position from the new Emergency Short Stay Unit (ESSU) will solve the staffing issues in the emergency department during night shift, given the ESSU will require its allocated staff when it begins operating at full capacity.

“HNE LHD management has at least acknowledged that the Triage, Resuscitation and Team Leader roles must be rostered separately in the emergency department, while more reviews will be conducted across the department rather than the immediate implementation of additional nursing staff.”

Mr Holmes acknowledged the HNE LHD Chief Executive had conceded staffing problems do exist at the hospital and sat down with local nursing and midwifery staff to discuss their concerns, albeit many months after they had raised the alarm.

Mr Holmes confirmed both the maternity unit and emergency department staffing disputes had been brought forward and were due to be discussed in the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW today.

The NSWNMA also reassured members of the Tamworth Hospital Branch it would continue to lobby and campaign on their behalf to improve safe patient

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