Staffing woes transfer to Wyong Hospital’s new building

Central Coast nurses and midwives hold grave concerns for safe patient care in Wyong Hospital’s new ‘Block H’ building, after serious staffing shortfalls were not addressed before moving into the facility last week.

NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) Wyong Hospital branch officials requested urgent briefings with Central Coast Local Health District, after more than 300 nurses described the staffing as ‘a disaster waiting to happen’ in a letter to Acting Chief Executive, Brad Astill.

NSWNMA Wyong Hospital Branch President, Kelly Falconer, said members had raised concerns about widespread nurse vacancies, heavy workloads and poor skill mix over several months but the issues were largely ignored.

“While the Local Health District focused on moving into the new building, our members have been grappling with how they’re supposed to deliver patient care safely, alongside rising nurse vacancies and a fatigued casual staffing pool,” said Ms Falconer.

“There are almost 20 full-time equivalent current vacancies in the emergency department, while unplanned leave is often not replaced on many wards, leaving the remaining nurses short-staffed.

“This is not sustainable, and it compromises nurses and midwives’ ability to deliver a safe level of care to our patients.

“The district was alerted to our concerns at numerous Reasonable Workload Committee meetings, yet they pressed on with shifting patients and services into Block H to meet a preferred timeline. They’ve simply transferred these staffing issues over as well.

“As an immediate solution, we’re calling on the district to cap the use of surge beds on several wards inside Block H, until nurse staffing levels are increased to safely meet the demand.

“We’ve been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep our community safe, but nurses and midwives feel unsupported by the district for failing to listen or address these concerns.”

The NSWNMA’s campaign for nurse-to-patient ratios on every shift and safe staffing levels in maternity units would help to address this issue. Mandated ratios would ensure staffing was adequately linked to the number of patients in a ward, rather than just to the number of beds typically open.

Wyong Hospital Branch members held a two-hour strike in mid-June over the same staffing issues.

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