Lismore Base Hospital nurses take action over staffing cuts
SOME patients are being turned away from Lismore Base Hospital's Women's Care Unit under industrial action launched last night by nurses and midwives.
The action, sparked by concerns over staffing cuts, means only maternity patients will be able to access the ward.
NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association Lismore Base Hospital secretary Gil Wilson said the action meant over-flow patients from other parts of the hospital were unable to access any extra beds.
The action protests hospital management moves to cut 182 nursing and midwifery hours per week from the unit, which Mr Wilson said placed patients and staff at risk.
"It is all about making sure we can maintain appropriate safety levels for mothers and babies," he said.
The cuts to staffing levels would also undermine the provision of post natal care such help with breast feeding, as well as watching for signs of past natal depression, he said
The cuts stem from the adoption of a staffing formula called Birth Rate Plus.
Richmond Clarence Health Service Group executive director Lynne Weir said the use of the tool was agreed to by the Nurses Association as part of their workplace award provisions.
"The current adjustment to staffing in the Lismore Women's Care Unit has occurred due to a reduction in births and is less than 5% of nursing numbers," she said.
Mr Wilson said the number of staff the system determined was a minimum not a maximum.
"You can't use a spreadsheet to determine the appropriate and safe staff levels," he said.
Lisa Kremmer of the Nurses and Midwives association said the Women's Care Unit provided key maternity services for mothers and babies and took admissions following gynaecological surgery, overflow for pre and post-natal care, as well as surgical overflow from the main hospital wards.
"This is having a significant impact on the level of care they can provide, particularly during night shift," Ms Kremmer said.