Up in arms over nursing cuts
THE Northern Rivers has the highest birth rate in the State, so why are early childhood nursing staff levels at an all-time low in the region?
That is the question being asked by members of the North Coast Parents' Alliance, a new group formed with the aim of seeking sufficient numbers of early childhood nurses to meet the area's needs.
Alliance member Sally Cusack said sufficient early childhood nurses was a requirement under NSW Health's own Families First policy.
The group rallied outside Bangalow Community Health Centre last week to highlight its concerns about the loss of services for new parents and babies caused by a drop in nursing hours.
Mrs Cusack said the region's allocation of early childhood nurses had recently dropped from two full-time employees providing between them 78 hours a week service to the equivalent of 1.6 nurses providing 63 hours.
She said births in this region have risen to 366 a year. Seventy-eight hours a week was not enough when birth rates were lower and it was unsustainable now.
New mum Aurora King said the cuts to services at Bangalow had made it difficult for her to get advice about her baby Leuca, four months, when she needed it.
“For people like me who don't have use of a car during the week you can't do anything to access the service when you need it,” Ms King said.
“There is talk that the early childhood services will be available through referral from a doctor. But most parents don't need a doctor for their baby, they just need some advice.”
Ms Cusack said early childhood services were now not able to provide services including: Home visits for all new mums in the weeks after birth; ante-natal classes for all new parents; sufficient home support for multiple birth mothers; early identification of breast feeding problems, sleep and settling problems; and postnatal depression.
The group has sought a meeting with the North Coast Area Health Service CEO.
“The cornerstone of any health service is preventative care and parental support for our children, and prevention starts right from birth,” Ms Cusack said.DO NEW PARENTS NEED MORE SUPPORT? Phone 6624 3266 or SMS 0428 264 948