Nurses and midwives are nervous ahead of Freedom Day in NSW

The NSW healthcare workforce has expressed concern that understaffed hospitals will be overrun with Covid cases after Freedom Day.

Healthcare workers in New South Wales expressed their concerns ahead of the state’s reopening, highlighting serious concerns that the health system will overcome Covid cases.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association revealed on Friday that its members were on hold Day of dom Impact on the number of cases of coronavirus infection.

Members were reportedly very concerned that hospitalization could overwhelm the health system and the nursing workforce, which is already severely weakened.

Brett Holmes, state secretary-general for New South Wales, said the widespread staff shortage had been exacerbated by epidemic fatigue, particularly in regional areas such as northern New South Wales.

More than 160 full-time vacancies have already been reported across the local health district, indicating that it will struggle with an influx of infected patients.

“Before the pandemic, many public hospitals were struggling with staff shortages and relied on the goodwill of nurses and midwives to accept requests for regular overtime to keep their services open,” Mr. Holmes said.

“Unfortunately, this accreditation has not dissipated and we now hear that there are currently 163 full-time nursing positions in northern NSW, most of them in critical care, emergency or medical and surgical departments.

Holmes said members in Lismore, Tweed, Grafton and surrounding areas were “concerned about what lay ahead,” due to a small group of casual workers.

“This negatively affects the remaining nursing staff, who often feel compelled to continue accepting requests for overtime.”

While members of the public were optimistic about their return to their usual lifestyles, health care workers unfortunately won’t get such a privilege for a long time to come.

While experienced nurses continued in community-facing roles at vaccination centers and testing clinics, understaffed hospitals were struggling with a small workforce seeking clinical support and guidance.

“Nurses are being texted daily, asking them to start early or work double shifts, to address the shortage,” Holmes said.

“This is not sustainable, especially when nurses and midwives can access safer workloads, as well as better wages and conditions, across the border in Queensland.”

Nurses and midwives have had very little reprieve since the pandemic began more than 18 months ago.

The association urged the local health district in northern NSW to “explore all employment options” to fill the vacant roles, and encouraged others to do the same.

Similar issues have been observed elsewhere, including at Port Macquarie Base Hospital where there have been more than 70 full-time vacancies recently.

Maitland Hospital also has more than 30 vacancies and Wagga Wagga Hospital has 64.

“This shortage has put an enormous strain on the remaining workforce, not to mention the additional pressures of the pandemic that we are still coming our way through,” said Shai Kandish, Assistant Secretary-General for New South Wales.

NSWNMA has also called on the NSW government to introduce mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios for every shift and ward across the state.

“The NSW government must listen to the nurses and midwives on the front lines and not ignore the fact that Queensland, Victoria and Canberra all have pedigree. We need a better health system in NSW and to make that happen, we need more staff.”


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