The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) does not anticipate its members will be forced to close beds this evening in Medical ward A at Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital.
Nursing staff confirmed they are continuing to monitor the situation on a shift by shift basis, and will only close beds if there is a shortfall of nursing hours to meet the legally required nursing hours per patient.
The NSWNMA today called on the Illawarra-Shoalhaven Local Health District (LHD) to manage bed numbers and admissions to Medical Ward A where nursing shortfalls occur.
Members of the Shoalhaven District Hospital branch unanimously passed a resolution last Thursday to begin closing beds, to ensure nursing staff levels match the number of patients that allows nurses to meet their professional obligations for safe patient care.
After being notified of the action, LHD management scrambled over the weekend to fill vacant shifts and also throughout Monday.
Staffing spot checks over the past 14 weeks revealed, on average, Medical ward A had fallen under the required 5.5 Nursing-Hours-Per-Patient-Day by 70 hours per week.
Medical ward A regularly has 37 patients, including four monitored cardiac patients, however the ward is currently only funded and staffed for 33 patients.
General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, acknowledged management’s efforts to cover the immediate staffing shortfalls, but said he was looking forward to a longer-term solution being discussed tomorrow morning.
Members of the Shoalhaven District Hospital branch are due to meet with LHD management on Tuesday, 19 August 2014.