NC healthcare strategy halted

NURSE and hospital bed numbers on the Coffs Coast will stay as they are, following a decision by the North Coast Area Health Service to halt the rollout of a strategy for treating patients in the community.

The NSW Nurses Association met with North Coast AHS on Monday to discuss the strategy that would cut nurses shifts and convert 86 beds at 14 North Coast hospitals into surge beds, which would only be used to treat seriously ill patients.

As part of the strategy, alternative models of care have been put forward for mild or chronically ill patients to be treated at home and/or in the community, rather than as hospital in-patients.

Since January, ongoing dispute talks had yet to reach a resolution but Monday's meeting has resulted in the formulation of an area-wide road show that will visit hospitals for first-hand briefings over the next three weeks.

The road show will be headed by North Coast AHS chief executive, Chris Crawford, and executive director of clinical operations, Denice Fletcher, and has been initiated to seek feedback on the strategy from clinical staff at 14 North Coast hospitals.

"By listening and responding to concerns, the strategies can be strengthened and made more effective," Mr Crawford said.

"This road show will detail the research and analysis behind the development of strategies to enable more hospital bed capacity to be available for seriously ill patients at times of high demand."

Earlier this month the NSW Nurses Association raised concerns that appropriate support mechanisms are not in place for patients to be treated outside of hospitals.

But Mr Crawford said a mix of community and health care in the home services was already well established and will be further enhanced in the future.

NSW Nurses Association general secretary, Brett Holmes, said concerns about the impact of the strategy have been made clear to North Coast AHS.

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