Staffing levels at hospitals such as Coffs Harbour (pictured) will be reduced due to sick leave according to a new directive from NSW Ministry of Health.
Staffing levels at hospitals such as Coffs Harbour (pictured) will be reduced due to sick leave according to a new directive from NSW Ministry of Health.

Sick nurses will not be replaced

A DIRECTIVE from the NSW Ministry of Health could be leaving hospital wards on the Mid North Coast short staffed.

A leaked memo showed that the first member of nursing staff to take sick leave on a morning or afternoon shift will not be replaced.

The directive regarding the non-replacement of sick staff applies to morning and afternoon shifts seven days a week.

A replacement staff member is only to be sought according to the directive when a second sick leave call has been received for the same shift. Only the second staff member will be replaced.

In the circumstances where only one sick leave call has been made, the ward is expected to work with the reduced number of staff.

Otherwise it is expected that the ward will work down.

The directive does not apply to staff working the night shift.

NSW Labor MLC for Coffs Harbour Greg Donnelly said that the O'Farrell/Stoner government's directive is dangerous and will put patients at local hospitals at risk.

"Instead of more nurses for Coffs Harbour and Bellingen hospitals, the O'Farrell/Stoner government's solution is to save money by letting local patients go without," Mr Donnelly said

"Refusing to properly staff hospital wards will only lead to disaster.

"Waiting times are already blowing out under the O'Farrell/Stoner government and now they are introducing a policy to cut the number of nurses caring for patients at Coffs Harbour and Bellingen hospitals.

"For all their promises about improving our health system in Opposition, this disgraceful policy proves things are only getting worse under the O'Farrell/Stoner government."

Also speaking out strongly against the directive was Dr Andrew McDonald, the shadow ster for Health and Medical Research.

"The O'Farrell Government's policy will make nursing workloads unbearable and is extremely dangerous, particularly in high dependency and Intensive Care Units," Dr McDonald said.

"For the sake of patients in public hospitals, the Health Minister Jillian Skinner has no choice but to reverse this directive immediately.

"This is a classic case of an uncaring and incompetent Health Minister trying to save a few bucks at the expense of nurses, public hospital patients and their families."



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