Wagga Wagga nurses and midwives walk out over staffing

Nurses and midwives from Wagga Wagga Base Hospital gathered in their own time at the end of night shift on Wednesday to rally over short staffing issues and the need for safe nurse-to-patient ratios.

After repeatedly raising workloads concerns, local NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) members will call for minimum and enforceable staffing ratios to help stem the volume of clinicians leaving.

NSWNMA Wagga Wagga Base Hospital branch delegate, Natalie Ellis, said the loss of experienced nurses and midwives had put considerable strain on an already stretched health system.

“We have a professional responsibility to ensure the care our patients receive is safe and we take that responsibility seriously. Our population is growing, we’re living longer, and patients often have complex health needs, so there’s increased demand on the system but not enough staff,” Ms Ellis explained.

“Every mainland state in Australia has responded to this demand by committing to nurse-to-patient ratios, except NSW. A staffing ratio ensures the right number of nurses or midwives are available per shift to provide safe patient care. We need ratios in NSW.”

A recent review of full-time equivalent nursing vacancies, which have not been permanently filled, highlights the widespread shortages across the Riverina:

Hospital / Multipurpose Service:

Full-time vacancies, not permanently filled:

Wagga Wagga Base Hospital

66.27 FTE positions

Junee MPS

4.8 FTE positions

Coolamon-Ganmain MPS

1 FTE position

Murrumburrah-Harden MPS

7.2 FTE positions

Young District Hospital

1 FTE position

Tumut District Hospital

13.6 FTE positions

Tumbarumba Health Service

4.8 FTE positions

Holbrook Health Service

6 FTE positions

“Nurses and midwives are leaving local hospitals to move interstate or are changing careers because they’re so fatigued from excessive workloads and constant overtime,” added Ms Ellis.

“We’re aware of skilled clinicians who have moved to Victoria and Queensland because they have nurse-to-patient ratios. Others have walked away from the profession to work in retail or pharmacy.

“This International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting how valuable our female-dominated workforce is and calling for enough nurses and midwives to provide safe, quality care to our patients.”

NSWNMA Wagga Wagga Base Hospital branch members sought community support for minimum and enforceable ratios on every shift, and urged local candidates in the upcoming state election to ensure staffing matches the needs of patients across the Riverina.

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