SHOALHAVEN HOSPITAL AND NURSING UNDERSTAFFING
Please write letters based on some of the information provided below, to these MPs/Ministers / Candidates

Fiona Phillips, MP, Federal Member for Gilmore, fiona.phillips.mp@aph.gov.au
Shelley Hancock, MP, Member for South Coast,
southcoast@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Andrew Constance, Liberal candidate for Gilmore,
andrew.constance@nswliberal.org.au
Ryan Park, MP, Shadow Minister NSW Health,
keira@parliament.nsw.gov.au
Brad Hazzard, MP, Minister for Health,
office@hazzard.minister.nsw.gov.au
Greg Hunt, MP, Minister for Health & Aged Care,
Minister.Hunt@health.gov.au
Mark Butler, MP, Shadow Minister for Health & Ageing, mark.butler.mp@aph.gov.au

A community meeting was held in Huskisson on Monday 7th March, where two branch offi- cials from the NSW Nurses & Midwives Association - nurses at Shoalhaven Public Hospi- tal, spoke on the chronic under-resourcing of the hospital since COVID. They reported nurses are feeling pressured and disadvantaged and they want the community to under- stand the issues and what was behind their walk-outs. The focus of their industrial action are pay, and staff to patient ratios. The response from Government has been disappoint- ing. The nursing staff are asking for support from the community.
No doubt other hospitals have experienced similar issues. However, Shoalhaven Hospital has the additional burden of a rapidly increasing population since COVID, in addition to the large influx of tourists & visitors. Also, we have a considerable number of Aged Care facili- ties in our area whose residents have greater medical needs. Therefore it is inevitable our small regional hospital would be stretched beyond its limited resources. The hospital ca- pacity is always above 100%.
It is in our interest as a community to support the nursing staff of Shoalhaven Hospital.
Absenteeism due to staff, or members of their family, falling sick with COVID, combined with the obligatory periods of isolation, has resulted in Shoalhaven Hospital being under resourced. Pressure is placed on existing rostered staff to fill shifts. On days off they re- ceive at least 4 text messages a day asking if they can fill gaps.
The shortage of doctors in the Shoalhaven has also had an impact. There is nowhere else for sick people to go to access a doctor other than Shoalhaven Hospital. The same applies to ill residents of Care Homes when the facility is not adequately staffed due to COVID and isolation requirements, and not having RNs on duty.
Nurses are leaving Shoalhaven Hospital, especially senior nurses, because they are ex- hausted and feel unappreciated. Whilst the new Premier Mr. Perrottet has been boasting of NSW’s health system, he has been responding to nurses grievances by telling them to “cope.”
Staff diagnosed with COVID are required to take their own sick leave for the obligatory time away from work. Claiming under Work Cover for time off is only successful when evi- dence can be provided that COVID infection occurred at work. This is not feasible. Therefore, some staff have no sick leave left.
There is no Nursing Staff Agency available to Shoalhaven Hospital, unlike other hospitals where relief nurses can be accessed.
The loss of experienced staff perpetuates the ailing system:
* The skill mix is not as it should be, eg. Senior staff with juniors. This also makes it difficult to run The Graduate Nurses Program - where nursing graduates are to be placed with senior nurses to supervise and provide support.
* Replacing sick staff and or those in isolation, cannot be done satisfactorily due to the lack of available & appropriately skilled staff. Therefore, ‘Like for Like’ replacement is not happening. ‘Specials’ aren’t available to deal with difficult patients or those with special needs.
The nurses are requesting:
* Mandatory staff to patient ratios on a 24/7, shift by shift basis, that are legally enforceable. They argued ratios are important because they save money - prevent accidents, and produce better patient outcomes.
1:3 in Emergency 1:4 in a Ward 1:1 in Intensive Care 1:3 in Maternity. And an appropriate ratio for Midwifery that includes babies in the numbers. (Cur-
rently that is not the case)
This is not an unreasonable claim. Nurses have a professional obligation to call out patient safety issues. Our community relies on Shoalhaven Hospital. This is for the benefit of staff and patients - and that can be any one of us in the Shoalhaven community.
* An increase in pay. At the very minimum in line with inflation. More beneficial would be a pay increase that demonstrates we value our hospital nurses. The community will benefit in more ways than one, as the money will be spent locally.