More than 100 nurses, midwives and residents of Tamworth attended a Community Forum at Tamworth Services Club last night to discuss concerns surrounding ongoing the staffing shortages at Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital.
Tamworth Hospital Branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) took the opportunity to outline their concerns regarding serious nursing and midwifery staffing storages in both the hospital’s emergency department and maternity unit.
Assistant General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Judith Kiejda, said it was imperative the local community and surrounding areas had a full understanding of workload issues inside the hospital and the overarching risks these issues placed on the delivery of safe patient care.
“You have a beautiful new state-of-the-art hospital which has been built to best practice, the problem is that it has not been staffed to best practice,” Ms Kiejda said.
“Hunter New England Local Health District (HNE LHD) believes that because the bed base has not been significantly altered it can retain the same staffing levels, well, it can’t. Both the maternity unit and emergency department have completely different footprints to the old hospital building and are physically larger – extra staff must be recruited.
“In the maternity unit, midwifery staff are at breaking point and are being seriously undervalued by local management. In recent days, there were five deliveries on the night shift, one actually happened in the emergency department and there were only three staff rostered on in maternity.
“We cannot afford to let our hardworking, highly skilled nurses and midwives burn out and either leave the health system or become ill themselves – unless HNE LHD management urgently acknowledges its duty of care to its nursing and midwifery staff – this will happen.”
During the forum, community members raised immediate concerns for the ongoing workloads and increased overtime being expected of local nurses and midwives and committed to write letters to state Tamworth MP, Kevin Anderson, to intervene in the matter.
Branch members also launched a community petition calling for immediate action by the NSW Ministry of Health and the Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, to ensure the hospital is staffed adequately to meet patient demand and in accordance with the Public Health System Nurses’ & Midwives (State) Award 2015.
Download a copy of the petition ‘Is Tamworth Hospital Safely Staffed?’