Nurses planning to close beds

NURSES at Coffs Harbour will close beds in three wards of Coffs Harbour Base Hospital from Monday as part of the campaign to force the NSW Government to introduce a one-to-four nurse to patient ratio, like that introduced in Victoria.

The president of the Coffs Harbour Health Campus branch of the NSW Nurses Association, Sue White, said from Monday beds would be closed in the medical assessment unit, surgical ward and transit lounge and from January 17, bed closures would include the rehabilitation ward.

“At this stage, Coffs Harbour is not involving the operating theatres but we are looking at this as a possible escalation in the campaign,” Ms White said.

“It is a work in progress. We are a country hospital so it won’t necessarily be one in four beds, it will be changing on a daily basis.

“We will not be making it any more difficult than normal bed closures.

“Emergency admissions and oncology patients will be excluded as will high-dependency and monitored patients.”

Nurses will not move to close beds at Bellingen District Hospital next week, because of the small size of the hospital.

The North Coast organiser with the NSW Nurses Association, Jo-Anne McKeough, who met with Coffs Harbour nurses at 3pm yesterday, said the union was concentrating its industrial action on bigger facilities like the larger base hospitals, but providing smaller facilities such as Bellingen, Macksville and Dorrigo with all the information about the one-for-four campaign so they had the ability to follow suit.

She said Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Port Macquarie, Lismore and Tweed hospitals were expected to join the campaign next week.

Ms McKeough said the campaign was open-ended.

“At this stage it is expected to continue until the government comes to the table,” Ms McKeough said.

A spokesman for NSW Health said hospitals would continue to provide patients with necessary clinical care as required and assured the community patients requiring urgent care would still be seen.

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