Nurses and midwives at Lismore Base Hospital will meet with hospital management this morning in an effort to stave off industrial action.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association has warned the industrial action will begin on Monday unless concerns about staffing levels are addressed.
NSWNMA branch members met this week and voted to refuse to accept non-maternity admissions into the Women’s Care Unit.
Local spokesperson Lisa Kremmer said midwives and nurses believed their professional obligations towards safe patient care were being compromised by staffing cuts in the units.
‘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 (FTE) staff allocated to the Women’s Care Unit,’ Ms Kremmer said.
‘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 step was a last resort and one that the branch members did not take lightly.
She confirmed emergency care and treatment would not be affected by the action and all maternity related admissions and presentations would continue as normal.
Hospital management was advised of the planned industrial action and has been given a deadline of 5pm on Monday to restore staffing levels that would allow safe patient care.