Show of force for Cobar community in support of nurses' concerns

ALMOST 200 people joined the recent Cobar nurses' rally calling for safer patient care.

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) manager Lisa Kremmer said the Cobar community turned out in strength supporting the nurses.

The community had to be aware that patient safety was compromised with recent changes to nurse staffing arrangements, she said. Ms Kremmer said an elderly lady at the rally shouted "safe patient care is the bottom line" expressing her concerns on the current nurse staffing arrangements.

"Does the hospital have the right staff to safely manage emergency patients?" she said.

Ms Kremmer said Western NSW Local Health District (LHD) recently cut nursing hours at the Cobar hospital.

The LHD also refused to provide an on-call roster leaving two nurses after 11am each day to care for emergency presentations and up to ten patients.

An on-call roster meant one nurse was designated each day to stay on call and be ready to act as an "extra pair of hands", she said.

The designated on-call nurse stayed local and if they had children, childcare was arranged so there were no delays in attending to an emergency.

"The district did a trial with the on-call roster and they didn't believe it worked but the evidence showed the on-call roster was used more than 50 per cent of the time," she said.

The on-call roster was an inexpensive method to ensure patients would remain in safe hands, she said.

"It would only cost about $15,000 a year," she said.

The Cobar NSWNMA branch communicated with the LHD board of directors and the local state MP Kevin Humphries in the hope of reaching a deal.

The branch would also make representations to the NSW health minister Jillian Skinner to intervene and fund the on-call roster.

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