Unfunded hospital beds will be shut down and elective surgery may be put on hold at the new Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital, following an extraordinary branch meeting between NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) members and Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) management this afternoon.
NSWNMA members raised their serious concerns about nurse staffing, skill mix, hospital resources and safe patient care.
Assistant General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Judith Kiejda, said the issues were widespread throughout the new state-of-the-art facility.
“Staff are exhausted, working unacceptable hours of overtime to try and manage bed-block problems at the hospital, which is resulting in fatigue and an increase in sick leave,” Ms Kiejda said.
“The Federal and State Governments’ refusal to provide adequate funding to staff the hospital appropriately has led to a compromise of safe patient care.
“On behalf of our members, we’ve called on MLHD management to honour our original agreement to open only the number of beds that are funded. Management has until Tuesday to respond to our request for them to close unfunded beds being used or we will come back to enforce the agreement, reassess the situation and consider whether there’s a need to suspend elective surgery until the problem is fixed. We also have demanded more regular reasonable workload committee meetings to address concerns raised by local nursing and midwifery staff and ensure urgent action is taken to deal with them.
“We warned management about the risks and advised that under current staffing levels the hospital could not operate at full capacity, yet all beds are open. There’s just not enough staff to manage the larger footprint of the new facility, which includes a much larger emergency department and paediatrics unit twice the size of that at the old Base Hospital.
“We’ve also been advised that ambulances have been backed up and left waiting to be offloaded in ED.
“Public patients are being ferried off to Calvary Hospital for treatment, while the hospital favours higher-paying private patients. This is just not acceptable at a public hospital,” Ms Kiejda said.
The NSWNMA will continue negotiations with local management until staffing requirements are met and members of the NSWNMA’s Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital Branch feel it is safe to operate services efficiently.
Download this media release: Wagga Wagga hospital told to close unfunded beds