Eight months after the review of the South East Regional Hospital (SERH), initiated by NSW Health, many of the key issues remain unresolved.
According to the key nurses union, the suggested review that should have taken place six months after Michael Reid’s and Adrian Nowitzke’s May 2017 review of SERH has not happened.
As a result, nurses have sent an open letter to new CEO Andrew Newton expressing their concern and highlighting a number of issues they say need fixing.
The letter cites a number of matters including the hospital’s recruitment process, continuing education of graduate nurses, lack of nursing oversight and coordination in many of the hospital’s departments, and points to failing communications between nursing staff and management.
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NSW Nurses and Midwives Association stewards at SERH Rob Geary and Mark Bichard said the delays in recruiting staff were unacceptable.
“Sometimes it take months before an ad appears and then it can take another couple of months after the selection process for the paperwork to come through. The general consensus is that the HR process takes too long,” Mr Geary said.
Mr Bichard called the recruitment process “atrocious” and pointed to page 28 of the review, which called on SERH to improve its human resources capability.
Twenty graduate nurses are expected to start at SERH, but concern remains over their ongoing education. There is normally time set aside for graduate nurses to further their clinical education, but the NSWNMA has questioned how this will take place without impacting senior staff. The review also mentioned the need for educational support.
“Each area has its own set of skills and there should be a clinical nurse educator for every area. Over six months after the review, recommendations haven’t been followed,” Mr Bichard said.
There are also concerns about nursing coordination and oversight in many of SERH’s departments including emergency, intensive care unit, medical and surgical wards.
“The nurses are getting slammed by the numbers of patients they are dealing with. There’s no capacity building. Our concern is to provide safe care for the local community; that’s paramount,” Mr Bichard said.
CEO Andrew Newton has been contacted for comment.