Bed closures averted at Shoalhaven Hospital

SHOALHAVEN Hospital came close to having to close beds due to a nursing staff shortage.

At a meeting last Thursday, members of the Shoalhaven District Hospital branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) passed a resolution to begin closing beds, to ensure nursing staff levels match the number of patients that allow nurses to meet their obligations for safe patient care.

Medical ward A regularly has 37 patients, including four monitored cardiac patients, however the ward is currently only funded and staffed for 33 patients.

After being notified of the action, Illawarra-Shoalhaven Local Health District management scrambled over the weekend and Monday to fill vacant shifts.

On Tuesday the NSWNMA said it did not anticipate its members would be forced to close beds in Medical ward A at Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital.

Nursing staff confirmed they would continue to monitor the situation on a shift by shift basis.

They will only close beds if there is a shortfall of nursing hours to meet the legally required nursing hours per patient.

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.

The NSWNMA 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 were due to meet with LHD management on Tuesday. 

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