Health union backs nurses, and says hospital morale on the up

The Health Services Union has said better communication with regional hospital management is seeing positive results for staff.

HSU workplace delegate at the South East Regional Hospital Grant Bryant said the union supports the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association in its call for staff shortages to be addressed, but added staff morale is on the increase.

“We think their [the NSWNMA] concerns are valid, and currently the sub-branch is pushing for further recruitment in pathology, speech pathology, dietetics and health and security assistance," Mr Bryant said.

“We are having open dialogue with management, which is a really positive move, however we will continue to push for staffing in these areas as a priority.

“We are thankful for new management openness this year.”

He said the HSU is “ecstatic” over the Southern NSW Local Health District announcement an extra emergency department nurse would be recruited and 10 administration staff were due to start work this week.

“The mood at the hospital is improving, but a long way from the optimal mood it should be,” Mr Bryant said.

“Certainly morale is a mile ahead of where it was last year, it is slowly lifting.”

Last week, South East Regional Hospital NSWNMA branch assistant secretary Diane Lang said many issues still remain at the hospital, despite a comprehensive review in May.

"Our hospital services a very large geographical area, not just the population of Bega, and demand on our facility grows enormously over the summer holiday period," Ms Lang said.

The Southern NSW Local Health District responded by claiming the hospital could boost nursing numbers in peak periods if needed, and planning for summer had been underway for months.

“Managers on duty are able to increase staff numbers during high demand to ensure the community receives appropriate and timely care,” a health district spokesperson said.

“Southern NSW Local Health District staffs its facilities to provide safe and effective levels of care.”

A recent Bureau of Health Information’s (BHI) annual Healthcare in Focus 2016 report compared NSW to heathcare systems in Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

While the report found NSW matches or outperformed the other systems in 80 per cent of measures, NSW patients experience higher rates of post-surgical complications.

The report also found inappropriate use of procedures such as knee arthroscopy persist, and the median waiting times for cataract surgery, and hip and knee replacements are longer than many other countries, particularly among patients from lower socioeconomic areas.

“New South Wales performs consistently well when aspects of our healthcare system are measured against those in comparator countries,” BHI acting chief executive Dr Kim Sutherland said.

“The report finds that no country had lower spending and better health than NSW.

“Healthcare is accessible to most people in NSW and patients generally receive it in a timely and safe way.”

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