Hospital beds close in Yass over safe staffing concerns

Outside of Yass Hospital.
Outside of Yass Hospital.

Five beds inside Yass District Hospital have been closed until further notice due to ongoing staffing and safety concerns held by members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA).

The NSWNMA Yass District Hospital Branch resolved to close the beds late yesterday and expressed their frustration at the NSW government's refusal to improve staffing by introducing shift-by-shift ratios.

In notifying local management of the industrial action, the branch outlined '...The Yass District Hospital Branch of the NSWNMA express our frustration at the current unresolved issue at our workplace, that puts nurses and our patients, the local community, at risk.

Nursing staff at Yass District Hospital have great concern over the current security coverage. Yass District Hospital currently only has support security staff between the hours of 0800-1800.

Afterhours there is no security based at the hospital, and an inadequate external police coverage within the town.

With our current levels of staffing, we are further concerned over our inability to care for patients with acute or chronic behaviour disturbance such as that seen in patients with dementia or an acute psychiatric episode...'

The branch also stated: 'Access to safe public health care is a human right and we believe it is in our communities' interest to be informed of the above-mentioned systemic failings.'

NSWNMA Yass District Hospital branch president, Paul Haines, said the bed closures would be reviewed weekly and seven beds remained open to the public.

"We have had enough of being taken for granted and our professional concerns must be acknowledged by the NSW government," Mr Haines said.

"We desperately need ratios across NSW. What we're seeking is not excessive. It's to make all NSW hospitals safe for everyone accessing care."

Last week, around 500 nurses and midwives walked off the job across seven public health sites at Belmont, Blue Mountains, Bowral, John Hunter, Shoalhaven, Springwood and Waratah because of the conditions and pressures they are forced to work under.

To date, the NSW government has refused to negotiate any change to current staffing or introduce nurse-to-patient ratios similar to Queensland, Victoria and Canberra.

Southern New South Wales (SNSWLHD) has been contacted for comment.