The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has said it is “cautiously optimistic” a review into the Bega hospital will resolve ongoing workload issues and staffing shortages.
Since the new hospital opened last March, NSWNMA members have repeatedly called on Southern NSW Local Health District to address concerns that have been compounded by an increase in demand for health services.
The general secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said it was “unacceptable” for local hospital management to provide only minimum staffing and ignore the clinical needs of the community.
“Our members are exhausted and struggling to deliver their professional commitment to provide safe patient care at all times,” he said.
“We are aware of up to 30 occasions when three operating theatres have opened for procedures, despite South East Regional Hospital only having a budget to fully staff two operating theatres and a procedure room – this puts enormous pressure on exiting nursing staff in these areas.
“Local management has a duty of care to both staff and patients in their hospital. It’s their responsibility to manage budgets to supply the necessary staffing for the entire financial year.”
Mr Holmes said there had been shortages in administrative staff at SERH which have flow-on impacts to the reasonable workloads of nurses and midwives.
“South East Regional Hospital isn’t the first new public hospital to experience staffing problems, Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital also suffered a similar fate,” he said.
“It’s clear the Ministry of Health needs to take another look at how funding is allocated for staffing in these new, larger facilities.”
Last week, the Bega District News reported NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard had announced an independent review that will look deep into the hospital’s overall functioning, rather than just the orthopaedic services as initially outlined.
The review is scheduled to be delivered to the Secretary of NSW Health by the end of April.