Pushing pens forces nurses to push for better health care


NURSES at Byron Bay Hospital say patient care is being undermined by the amount of paper work they have to complete.

NSW Nurses Association delegate Liz McCall, who is also the acting nurse manager atf the hospital, said staff were being pushed to the limit every day of the week.

Ms McCall said she spent half her day doing paperwork – and it was taking her away from the supervision of junior staff. Often she was not available for everyday activities like helping with drips, taking blood and talking to patients, instead finding herself ‘welded’ to the computer.

“I get frustrated I’m not fulfilling my role as an experienced registered nurse and midwife,” Ms McCall said.

“These days I don’t even have a proper lunch break. There’s no time.”

It’s why the NSW Nursing Association is seeking public support for a campaign to get full-time clerical assistance in the wards.

The association’s acting-general secretary Judith Kiejda said the North Coast Area Health Service was refusing to give nurses full-time clerical assistance.

“This is a very important issue for the nurses,” Ms Kiejda said. “Nurses are there to nurse patients. They cannot do that if they have to attend all of the administrative duties and paperwork associated with running the ward.

“They obviously have to do some paperwork, but they believe things have got out of hand at Byron Bay. The paperwork is necessary, but it is better done by a clerical assistant. That lets the nurses get on with nursing care.”

However, North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford said a decision to double, from one to two, the number of days allocated to ward clerking, had recently been made. He said there was no need for a full-time position.

He said Byron Bay Hospital had more clerical support than other hospitals benchmarked against it – and if staff reduced the time it allocated to other administrative duties, they would have enough time for ward clerking.

Ms McCall said there was ‘no room to manoeuvre’ when it came to other administrative duties.

The NSW Nurses Association is asking for letters of support on the issue to be sent to Chris Crawford at the North Coast Area Health Service.

They said it’s not just Byron Bay Hospital that is at stake.

“We’re not the only hospital without a full-time ward clerk. If we win, it’s going to set a precedent for the other hospitals in the region,” Ms McCall said.

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