Nurses will be “pushed to the limit” if a redeveloped Dubbo Hospital is not adequately staffed, says NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) organiser Katrina Lee.
She issued the warning after union members working at the hospital delivered a petition comprising 11,386 signatures into the hands of State Member for Dubbo Troy Grant.
The nurses are calling for extra nursing and midwifery educators, one nurse to every three patients in the hospital’s emergency department and improved nurse-to-patient ratios across intensive care and critical care units.
After talks with the nurses on Monday afternoon, Mr Grant phoned NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to advise him of the “gravity of the situation faced by nurses at Dubbo Hospital”.
He will also seek to have a “priority meeting” with Western NSW Local Health District chief executive Scott McLachlan in a bid to resolve the “staffing difficulties”.
Mr Grant will deliver the petition to the NSW Parliament when it resumes.
“We should all value our nurses who do an extremely difficult job,” the MP said.
“I am backing my nurses. It is as simple as that”.
For six years the NSWNMA has been lobbying the Ministry of Health for better nurse-to-patient ratios across the state to ensure “a safe and reliable public health system”.
“It took strike action and bed closures in 2011 to get the state government to listen to us and secure some ratios initially, however there are still many rural hospitals and important specialty areas, such as emergency departments, that don't have them,” Ms Lee said.
The union organiser reports of “ongoing skills mix and workloads issues” at Dubbo Hospital where many nurses are new to the profession.
“..our local branch is seeking additional nursing/midwifery education staff to ensure all nurses working across all shifts are appropriately skilled to deliver safe patient care,” she said.
Mr Grant indicated that the recruitment of a record number of nurses to the health district two years ago had been seen to fix staffing issues at Dubbo Hospital. He found Monday’s meeting with the nurses to be “very helpful” in understanding their concerns.
The state government is spending more than $253 million on the redevelopment of Dubbo Hospital, of which $10 million is going towards the construction of an integrated cancer centre.