The union representing nurses and midwives has raised concerns about working conditions at Lismore Base Hospital, seven weeks after the maternity ward roof collapsed.
The union representing nurses and midwives has raised concerns about working conditions at Lismore Base Hospital, seven weeks after the maternity ward roof collapsed. Cathy Adams

Calls to fast-track Lismore maternity ward investigation

NSW NURSES and Midwives' Association, concerned over Lismore Base Hospital working conditions, has called for investigations into the maternity ward's roof collapse to be expedited.

Acting general secretary of the association , Judith Kiejda said: "It is concerning that almost seven weeks after the roof damage occurred midwives, nurses and other hospital staff are still working in temporary conditions.

"Staffing issues were occurring in the Women's Care Unit more than six months prior to the roof damage and they've been exacerbated since.

"We know of up to four local midwives who remain on leave after being injured in the roof collapse, this would undoubtedly be putting additional pressure on the remaining staff.

"Northern NSW Local Health District management should be calling for any insurance assessments to be expedited or other delays to be fast-tracked. Expectant mothers in Lismore and the surrounding area don't simply get to 'hang on', as babies come along when they're ready," she said.

Last week NSW Health Infrastructure confirmed the Women's Care Unit temporary 'pod', pierced by scaffolding during a storm in late November, may not be repaired.

A new maternity ward, part of the $180 million Stage 3B redevelopment, is not scheduled until the end of 2017.

"It's extraordinary the LHD hasn't acted sooner and it's not acceptable for management to expect local patients, staff and the community to wait until the redevelopment plans realign to their current timetables," Ms Kiejda said.

The NMA spokeswoman also had concerns over the potential for bed-clearing strategies to counteract the loss of 10 beds.

"The Women's Care Unit has had an early discharge program in place for some time for low-risk mothers, however, it is dependent on their proximity to the hospital and the availability of Community Midwifery Services for follow up post-natal care," she said.

"It is paramount that local management continues to uphold a holistic women and child centred approach to all care and not merely use the early discharge program as a bed-clearing exercise."



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