North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford.
North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford.

Health CEO hits back

Statement from North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford on the severe staff shortage in the emergency department of the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital:

“The NSW Nurses Association and the NSW Department of Health have agreed before the Industrial Relations Commission, that nurse staffing levels will be determined through a process known as ‘Reasonable Nursing Workloads’.

To support a claim to increase staffing levels in an Emergency Department (ED), the nurse association needs to lodge a reasonable nursing workloads submission with the relevant hospital. This submission needs to set out the evidence that supports the claim for extra nursing staff.

This submission is then accessed by the Hospital and Area Health Service in various ways, including benchmarking with the staffing levels of other similar hospital EDs.

The Coffs Harbour branch of the Nurses Association has not put forward a Reasonable Nursing Workloads Submission to support its case for extra staffing in the ED.

Therefore, the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) considers the Nurses Association to be acting in bad faith in launching an industrial campaign, when it has not followed the proper process for seeking increased nursing staff.

In contrast, NCAHS has acted in good faith, because it has agreed to the rostering of an extra Registered Nurse in the ED at night, seven days per week for three weeks to provide stability while a reasonable workloads claim is considered.

There is no question that nurses work hard, that is acknowledged and appreciated.

The key question is whether the staffing levels in the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital (CHBH) ED are less than in equivalent hospital EDs.

In the past few months, the CHBH ED has received approval to recruit to two new nurse practitioner positions, one in aged care and the other in acute nursing.

As well, a tender has been let to build a new Express Care Clinic next to the ED to take some of the pressure off the ED.

So the next step is for the Nurses Association to put forward its evidence to support extra ED staffing in a Reasonable Nursing Workload Submission.”



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