Wyong ED campaigns for more staff
Nurses are campaigning for more staff at Wyong Hospital’s emergency department, where waiting times are among the worst in the state.
In the past six months, NSWNMA members have held two lunchtime rallies outside Wyong Hospital to highlight inadequate staff levels in the emergency department.
The rallies have received support from Central Coast Labor MPs and favourable coverage in local media.
The NSWNMA is calling for three extra nurses to be rostered on each shift in ED, and an urgent staffing review.
More than one third of Wyong ED patients wait more than four hours to receive treatment, according to the Bureau of Health Information.
The NSWNMA’s Wyong branch has been reporting unreasonable workloads in the ED since 2016.
Branch assistant secretary Jacinda Farrell said members received union training in how to document workloads during 2019.
“We hope management will come forward with a solution because nurses are overwhelmed and genuinely concerned about not being able to provide adequate care to their patients,” she said.
“It’s incredibly stressful not to be able to give your patients the care they deserve.”
Jacinda said excessive workloads left senior staff with little time to mentor junior nurses in the ED.
NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said members were distressed by the lack of support from the Central Coast Local Health District.
“Our members know firsthand that staffing levels are inadequate to meet the local growth in population, which is putting patient safety constantly at risk,” Brett said.
“ED presentations have continued to rise and the patients presenting are very unwell. The hospital’s own data shows this, and management knows this, yet they continue to expect their nursing staff to do more with less.
“Our members are reporting increased levels of overtime, sick leave not being replaced, senior nurses being unable to fully support their junior counterparts, as well as high levels of exhaustion and fatigue due to understaffing.”
Brett said patient aggression towards nurses was a major issue and long waiting times were a contributing factor.
ED presentations break records
Presentations to NSW public hospital emergency departments hit an all-time high last winter, vindicating calls by the NSWNMA for urgent extra nursing staff.
According to the Bureau of Health Information (BHI), emergency presentations rose in all 15 Local Health Districts during July to September.
There were more than 760,000 ED presentations across the state – an increase of 6.6 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2018.
The timeliness of care provided in EDs was down across key measures in July to September.
For instance, 31.9 per cent of patients spent more than four hours in ED – an increase of 3.3 percentage points.
Central Coast hospitals were high on the list of the percentage of patients waiting more than four hours.
Gosford was among the worst five in the state, with 42.9 per cent and Wyong registered 35.1 per cent.
Data obtained by the NSWNMA shows that presentations to Wyong hospital ED increased by 10,102 patients between 2014 and 2018.
That represents an average increase of 28 patients per day.