Hospital staff numbers can be increased to meet demand, says health district

The Southern Local Health District has responded to nurses union concerns over possible staff shortages during the summer holiday period.

A health district spokesperson said staff planning for the holiday period has been in planning for “a number of months”.

“Managers on duty are able to increase staff numbers during high demand to ensure the community receive appropriate and timely care,” the spokesperson said.

On Friday, members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association have called on the Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD) to urgently address nursing staff shortages at Bega’s South East Regional Hospital, ahead of the busy summer holiday season.

The South East Regional Hospital branch of the NSWNMA says it has written to hospital management and expressed their concern over the rising levels of overtime, and growing fatigue among nurses and midwives.

“Southern NSW Local Health District staffs its facilities to provide safe and effective levels of care,” the SNSWLHD spokesperson said in response to the concerns.

“Managers on duty are able to increase staff numbers during high demand to ensure the community receive appropriate and timely care.”

The spokesperson said staff level planning “takes into account a number of factors such as data from previous years, along with increasing staff numbers where appropriate to meet the expected increase in demand”.

The peak summer season provides different challenges, including the number and variety of presentations at the Emergency Department (ED), they said. 

“With this in mind, SERH is recruiting a nurse practitioner to supplement the emergency workforce in the SERH ED,” the spokesperson said.

“This will further help patient flow.

“The District has also employed ten administration staff who will start working at SERH this week, to help support nurses to undertake clinical work.

“The new administration positions include ward clerks for the paediatrics, renal and maternity wards along with roles in the human resources, executive support, reception and procurement areas.”

The nurses union had said ongoing job vacancies not being filled was putting a strain on existing staff.

The SNSWLHD spokesperson said the health district continues to actively recruit staff to positions where vacancies exist.

“The LHD Management appreciates the efforts of nursing staff during the recent flu season, which impacted rosters and availability,” the spokesperson said.

“The district looks forward to working with all staff to provide patient centred care throughout the upcoming summer period.”