More nurses for Blacktown ED
Staff and union pressure achieved three extra nurses per shift for Blacktown Hospital’s emergency department.
Western Sydney Local Health District agreed to roster three extra nurses per shift at Blacktown Hospital’s ED for six months while a staffing review takes place.
The NSWNMA led a push for more staff after the ED moved to a new, expanded area in August 2019.
Nurses found that the larger workspace added to existing workloads pressures.
Blacktown emergency present-ations have increased by almost 15,000 since 2012, when the ED had its last significant staffing increase.
NSWNMA representatives put a case for three extra nurses per shift to management, but the LHD said no.
Blacktown Hospital branch then resolved to impose an overtime ban unless management agreed to a formal staffing review.
Management agreed to a review and members backed by the union pressed NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard for further action.
More than 100 nurses and other ED staffers signed an open letter to Mr Hazzard.
The letter warned the ED was “dangerously understaffed” and said understaffing had already “led to catastrophic outcomes for patients under our care”.
Three extra staff won
After the letter appeared, LHD CEO Graeme Loy and other senior executives met with representatives from the NSWNMA and other hospital unions.
Following the meeting, Mr Loy agreed to an additional three nurses, 24 hours per day, for six months starting in November 2019.
The LHD expects to finish the staffing review by March.
ED nurses have welcomed improvements resulting from the additional staffing.
“The extra staffing has made a huge difference, particularly in ‘resus’”, said NSWNMA member Quennie Douglas.
“Having that extra nurse to cover meal breaks and give support during times when patients deteriorate is a massive load off our backs.
“Patients are better cared for as well. They are neat and comfortable because we have the extra hands to attend to their basic needs.”
NSWNMA member Erwin Alfonso said: “The extra hands at front of house have made caring for patients in the waiting room safer and more efficient.
“There is also room for us to be able to implement a more structured approach to deliver care in the waiting room as a result of appropriate staffing.”