Lamp shines on nurse shortages

PSYCHIATRIC nursing staff levels appear to be an issue at the Coffs Harbour Mental Health Unit.

In an article published in the NSW Nurse’s Association magazine The Lamp, local mental health nurse and president of the NSWNA Mental Health Services Branch, Scott Hanson, penned concerns over staffing at the unit.

“We have lost approximately eight experienced and senior staff who have applied to work in the rehab unit in the past 12 months, as well as numerous senior staff to the Acute Care Service since its inception,” Mr Hanson wrote.

“Our casual pool employee numbers are miserable at best.”

A Reasonable Workloads Committee, consisting of staff and management representatives, has been established by the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) to examine nursing workloads and provide recommendations to the service.

“The NCAHS is working closely with the NSW Nurse’s Association to identify any staffing and safety issues in the Coffs Harbour Unit,” a NCAHS spokesperson said.

In January this year, mental health services at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus received a much needed boost with the appointment of a full-time psychiatrist in addition to four part-time psychiatrists. NCAHS is currently advertising for a second full-time psychiatrist to be based in Coffs Harbour.

“Additionally, there are four psychiatric registrars and three resident medical officers,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Hanson declined to speak to The Coffs Coast Advocate.

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