With the next stage of the Nepean Hospital re-development underway, nurses and midwives are more concerned than ever about adequate staffing.
During the State Election campaign, the Berejiklian Government pledged to hire 5000 additional nurses and midwives after outcries from both staff and unions.
The State Government has indicated that the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District will receive 195 extra nurses and midwives over the next four years, however the exact allocation for Nepean Hospital is unknown.
But with 50 full-time equivalent vacancies currently in the maternity ward alone, not everyone is convinced this will be the answer to the hospital’s prayers.
Acting General Secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) Judith Kiejda said they are trying to focus on the immediate crisis.
“This high number of vacancies is a concern because it often means the remaining staff are working overtime and extra shifts to cover shortfalls,” she said.
“While we welcome the much-needed new hospital, significant attention must be paid to the current vacancies in the existing hospital to ensure safe patient care.”
The Election Policy Costing from the Parliamentary Budget Office reveals the breakdown of the 5000 nurses.
Over the next four years there will be only 48 full-time equivalent midwife positions state-wide.
Upon her trip to Nepean Hospital recently to open a new car park, the Weekender asked Premier Gladys Berejiklian if she could ensure the new tower would be adequately staffed.
She responded confidently and paid credit to her Government’s commitment of 5000 extra nurses and midwives.
“We’re planning for the future, it’s not just bricks and mortar but it’s also what happens inside our hospitals,” she said.
“I’m so pleased that we found the money not just in the budget to build the wonderful hospital here but also to provide the necessary staff. I want all the staff to know they’ll have our full support and I look forward to recruiting people.
“There is no doubt this is one of the fastest growing parts of Sydney and there’s always pressure on the health system and that’s why we are committing more than a billion dollars to redevelop this site to give first class services here.”
The NSWNMA continues to campaign for minimum, mandated nurse-to-patient ratios to be introduced in NSW.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.