The Tweed electorate has a higher proportion of the aging population compared to other parts of NSW.
The Tweed electorate has a higher proportion of the aging population compared to other parts of NSW. Contributed

Nurses fight cut backs

Tweed nurses and elderly residents are fighting to keep registered nurses (RN) compulsory in nursing homes.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest will be lobbied on Monday to support the fight, part of a current inquiry into the NSW government's plan to ease the need for RNs, triggered by a 10,000 signature petition in July.

Tweed branch president of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Zoe-Anne Guinea will submit a further 5,000 signatures to the MP on Monday.

Ms Guinea said RNs were crucial because they carried out skilled clinical treatments such as catheter changes; end of life pain management with narcotics; and assessed with higher skill when elderly patients needed emergency transfers.

The registered nurse said she was "shocked" the state government was "even considering the move" because of its implications on patient safety.

"Registered nurses are the people that can properly asses the level of care of elderly patients," she said.

"It's much better for older people to have the care where they are if possible - when older people go to hospital, they stay longer and fare worse than other groups. 

"Unnecessary admissions via emergency departments are detrimental to older people and put pressure on already-stretched ambulance and public hospital systems." 

Ms Guinea said the move was profit driven and not policy driven.

Enrolled nurses and assistants in nursing can be about $5-10-hour cheaper.

"If you don't have to put up a registered nurse it cuts the amount of wages," she said.

She said there were about 15 aged care homes on the Tweed that could be affected, with hundreds of RNs on staff.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner is expected to announce the outcome of the enquiry at the end of the year.

More updates and interviews in the Wednesday paper.



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