Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin with nurses outside the Murwillumbah Hospital on Saturday collecting signatures for the petition to stop the changes to nursing hours at the ED department.
Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin with nurses outside the Murwillumbah Hospital on Saturday collecting signatures for the petition to stop the changes to nursing hours at the ED department.

MP says proposed ED nursing cuts threatens patient safety

THE Member for Lismore has launched a petition aimed at fighting proposed changes to nursing shifts at Murwillumbah District Hospital's Emergency Department.

After a nursing staff review, Northern NSW Local Health chief executive Wayne Jones said it was proposed to redistribute some nursing hours from Murwillumbah to Byron Central Hospital and Ballina District Hospital.

MP Janelle Saffin said nurses, medicos and the local community were rightly outraged at "these cruel and needless cuts".

"It makes no sense to be targeting an ED which ranks second best in the state for patient satisfaction and has a high ranking for meeting all of its clinical key performance indicators," she said.

"Murwillumbah Hospital has a well-functioning, stable and busy ED which retains staff and which the community relies on, and people have serious concerns that these cuts could be the thin edge of the wedge for eventually closing down the hospital."

Mr Jones reiterated there were no plans and have never been plans to close MDH and staffing reviews were standard practise.

"NNSWLHD has reviewed nursing staffing in the EDs of a number of its hospitals to ensure we continue to meet patient demand by always placing staff where they are needed most," he said.

"We are enormously proud of the passionate, patient-centred care provided by staff at the hospital."

A staff consultation meeting was held on Thursday and Mr Jones said consultation would continue across coming weeks, taking on "feedback from our staff and working towards a revised allocation that better reflects the activity at the hospital."

Ms Saffin said the Murwillumbah branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association had vowed to fight the staff cuts because they also believe "that it will make the ED unsafe for patients and our nurses".

"To give the public some idea of how busy Murwillumbah's ED can get, nurses recently saw 18 patients from 8am to 10am one morning, and to remove 3.08 full- time equivalent staff or 230 nursing hours a fortnight, will put incredible pressure on remaining staff," she said.

Staffing allocations will be reviewed again as the opening of the new $582 million Tweed Valley Hospital in 2023 looms, Mr Jones confirmed.

"Between mid-2012 and mid-2019 the NNSWLHD increased its workforce by an additional 843 full time equivalent staff - an increase of 22.4 per cent including 157 more doctors, 280 more nurses and midwives, and 114 more allied health staff," he said.



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