Nurses and midwives gathered outside Wagga Base Hospital on Wednesday afternoon to demand better working conditions.
President of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association’s Wagga branch Rebecca Deveraux said multiple wards at the hospital were short-staffed, putting nurses and midwives under significant pressure.
“We have a lot of staff who are doing overtime shifts, our part-timers are doing more hours than they’re required to, and, coming up to winter and influenza season, it will be a really difficult situation when staff start getting sick,” Ms Deveraux said.
“It’s hard for patients as well, because we just can’t provide them with that level of care when we’ve got nurses who are exhausted from working 16 hour shifts.”
Ms Deveraux said a lot of the issues were caused by 16 surge beds that have not been allocated staff.
“These surge beds are technically not opened so aren’t funded or staffed, but I believe none of them have actually been closed since May last year,” she said.
“We want these 16 surge beds ultimately to bed opened, and we want the wards that have surge beds to employ enough nurses to be able to care for those patients.”
Director of nursing and midwifery Michele Coghlan refuted claims that patient safety was in jeopardy.
“Before today, Wagga Wagga Base Hospital has not received a notification from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association expressing concerns about workloads or staffing,” Ms Coghlan said.
“Whilst WWBH has opened additional beds during peak times, these have been staffed in accordance with the Award requirements.”
Ms Coghlan added that the hospital was expected to spend $55 million on nursing and midwifery staff in 2017-18, which would constitute $12.2 million more than that spent on the old hospital.