Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson
The enforced reduction of casual and permanent part-time nurses’ shift hours is the next frontline health cut under the Liberals’ efficiency dividend. It follows from the recent requirement for Royal Hobart Hospital surgeons to slash 15% of people needing elective surgeries from their waiting lists.
This cost-cutting means nurses will be responsible for the care of more patients, and increase the risk of 'double handovers' for patients with an hour or more gap between the end of one short shift and the start of another.
Make no mistake, these are frontline budget cuts that will put patient care – and ultimately, lives – at risk.
Last week, the Health Minister, Sarah Courtney couldn’t remember how many beds would be in the finished Royal Hobart Hospital. Now it seems, those patient beds won’t even be appropriately staffed.
This government directive to cut nurse shifts was rolled out without consultation. This is despite casual and permanent part-time nurses having just completed annual interviews and signed contracts for the coming year.
Having no casual nurses on for the last hour of a shift will lead to worse patient care, and a potential for delayed patient transfers from the Emergency Department and the Intensive Care Unit.
The Liberals’ brutal frontline budget cut will also impact upon the ability of medical and allied health staff to conduct their care to professional standards.
Forcing Nurse Unit Managers to under-staff their wards is actively risking the proper care and safety of hospital patients.
Minister Courtney urgently needs to confront the reality of nursing care and reverse her directive.