Nurses vow to turn away patients unless staffing issue fixed

NURSES' and midwives union members say they will turn some patients away from Lismore Base Hospital's Women's Care Unit from Monday, unless issues with staffing are resolved.

Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association say they will meet with Northern NSW Local Health District mangers this morning to address what they say are nursing staff shortages in the Women's Care Unit.

In a statement, association spokeswoman Lisa Kremmer said staff at the unit believed the shortages were compromising patient safety.

"For more than six months our members have repeatedly raised concerns with hospital management, after the Ministry of Health conducted a review of maternity staffing levels and Northern NSW Local Health District management subsequently reduced the number of full time equivalent staff allocated to the Women's Care Unit," Ms Kremmer is quoted saying in the statement.

"Midwives and nursing staff in the unit are deeply concerned that management proceeded with its cuts to staffing, removing 182 nursing and midwifery hours per week, placing many patients and staff at risk.

"Currently, the unit provides key maternity services for mothers and babies and also takes 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 when staff with limited experience can be left caring for up to 23 patients and 10 babies, without access to additional staff.

"As a result, the branch members feel they have no choice but to reduce the number of surgical admissions to the Women's Care Unit, this will allow the reduced number of staff to focus primarily on the care of mothers and babies."

Ms Kremmer said the hospital had until 5pm Friday to resolve the issue before nurses and midwives began turning away non-maternity patients.

She described the action as a last resort and said it would not impact on emergency care and treatment or on any maternity-related admissions or presentations at the hospital.



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