Continued staff shortages Kyogle Memorial Hospital are threatening the safety of workers and undermining the standard of care for patients, according to the Health Services Union (HSU).
Workers will hold a rally outside the hospital today at 12 noon today, and will call on NSW health minister Jillian Skinner to restore staff numbers and increase working hours at the facility.
The move has come shortly after nursing staff at Lismore Base Hospital were successful in gaining a staffing increase at the hospital’s recently opened expanded emergency department.
HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said that under recent staffing changes, Kyogle Memorial Hospital often had just one health and security assistant (HSA) on roster and, at times, was left without any licensed security staff at all.
‘It is vital that nurses, doctors and other staff are able to focus on their jobs without having to worry about their safety – especially at an emergency facility where staff are often dealing with patients who may have mental illnesses or affected by drugs.
‘The staff shortages at Kyogle, however, mean that HSAs are having to fill gaps elsewhere, and are not able to focus on their number one priority – providing a safe and secure workplace.
‘For example, nurses often do not have anyone to escort them safely to their car at the end of a shift. If an HSA is rostered on, they are instructed to limit their amount of time spent escorting people to their cars to just a 15-minute window.
‘At times we’re seeing HSAs doing the work of wardsmen, gardeners doing the work of security staff, and basic cleaning not happening at all. This is not the professional health system that people in the northern rivers need and deserve.’
Mr Hayes said the staff problems were being exacerbated whenever an HSA went on leave, as positions were not being backfilled.
The HSU is seeking to have an additional wardsman employed to allow HSAs to focus on core duties, plus an extra 20 hours a week rostered on for cleaning, and an extra 20 hours for laundry.