Fears for patient safety if nursing staff are reduced
MANAGEMENT plans to reduce the number of staff at the Nimbin Hospital will put patients at risk and place staff in "legal grey water", a whistleblower has said.
The whistleblower, who sought anonymity, said the hospital had been undergoing a trial which involved operating at reduced staff levels.
Currently, four hospital staff - an assistant in nursing, two enrolled nurses and a select nurse - manage the emergency department, four-bed acute care unit and 11-resident aged care centre.
Doctors come in and do a hospital round at 8am and are on call for emergencies while they work in the GP clinic.
"It gets us in a lot of legal grey water because you can't be everywhere at the same time," the source said.
"You hear all these horror stories where a nurse just looked the other way for one second and something happened and then they lose their registration."
Under the trial, an enrolled nurse position would be cut from the morning shift when the emergency department was at its busiest.
The Northern NSW Local Health District was contacted last Friday with questions relating to the claims and potential staff cuts, but no response had been received.
The whistleblower said three staff were not enough to manage a crisis situation.
"Sometimes you just get kids coming in with a rash but you do get traumas and you do get sepsis and you do get chest pains, which are all severe medical emergencies where you're hung up for quite a bit," the source said.
"It seems like they're just getting more and more people in management and less and less people actually doing the work."
In addition, the source said the hospital had no ambulance station and patients were sometimes required to wait a long time before they could be transferred to Lismore Base Hospital.
"Ambulances are often missing their target transferring patients from Nimbin to Lismore, so when we have an emergency, like a child with meningitis, we sometimes wait up to four hours for a transfer."