89 jobs to go from hospital

COFFS Harbour Health Campus will be forced to shed the equivalent of 89 full-time positions at a time when the Garling Report into acute care has acknowledged the hospital is under-funded.

Jenny Ryan, the Secretary of the Coffs Harbour Health Campus branch of the NSW Nurses Association, said nurses had been told at meetings on Wednesday that the campus would have to shed 89 FTEs without impacting on patient care, but she could not see how this could be done by health campus manager Margaret Bennett. “I would not want her job at present,” she said.

Ms Ryan said nurses at the campus would hold another meeting on Wednesday.

She said the NSWNA was not formally backing today's 1pm health funding cuts protest rally at the campus.

The rally has been organised by Coffs Harbour Nationals MP Andrew Fraser.

Jenny Ryan said they had not heard of any members' jobs under threat at present. Members were free to attend as individuals, she said.

NSWNA organiser for the North Coast Area Health Service, Joannne McKeough, said they understood a review was being conducted and did not want to create unnecessary panic among their members.

Woolgoolga's Maria Smith, who spent 13 hours in the hospital's emergency department on Monday with her 84 year old father as he waited for a bed on a ward, says she cannot understand how one part of the hospital can be so frantic while another is so quiet.

Mrs Smith is the carer for her 84-year-old father, David Higgins, who has congestive heart failure; chronic renal failure and a history of strokes.

She said he arrived at the hospital by ambulance at 6.45am on Monday after being unable to sit up in bed, but it was after 7pm before he was able to be shifted to the medical ward, having seen his specialist at 5pm.

She said Mr Higgins, a very big man, was forced to spend the entire day on an emergency department trolley so narrow he hung over the side, which worsened his arthritis.

Mrs Smith, who has no complaints about the care her father received from the medical and nursing staff, spent the day watching the frantic activity in ED as nurses tried to find beds for patients.

She said at one point there were seven patients waiting to be admitted, four of them on trolleys in the hall and three ambulances were held up because there were no beds for them.

When she finally arrived in the medical ward with her father, she expected to find it equally busy and was surprised to see empty beds.

Nurses explained that that the beds were empty because there were not enough staff on the medical ward.

Commissioner Peter Garling has called for an urgent restructure of the NSW hospital system to cope with a situation where public health chews up 27 per cent of the state's Budget and hospital use is increasing faster than the population.

In his report Mr Garling noted being told at the Coffs Harbour hearing in March that “the North Coast, while exploding in terms of population, was significantly underfunded and that there was an obsession with savings and savings strategy”.

He said on the whole major non-metropolitan hospitals like Coffs Harbour were 'extremely stretched'.



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