Saffin lobbies for more nurses

Janelle Saffin.
Janelle Saffin.

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin is lobbying Hunter New England Local Health District management to secure a return of the nursing roster status quo at Tenterfield Hospital.

Local nurses and community representatives asked Ms Saffin to advocate after an Armidale-based decision to downgrade the nursing roster -- to two instead of three nurses on duty in two of the three daily shifts - put staff 'under the pump'.

This roster shake-up was having a major impact.

MP Janelle Saffin

"This roster shake-up was having a major impact on nurses' ability to cover both the Emergency Department and Inpatient Unit on week days, and it was pushing even the more experienced nurses to breaking point," Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin inspected the hospital on June 13, where she met up hospital advisory committee member and retired ambulance-paramedic Allan McKenzie and concerned resident Darren Druitt, who expressed their deep disquiet at the situation.

Ms Saffin sought the assistance of NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard's office to connect her with Hunter-New England Local Health District Chief Executive Michael Di Rienzo so that she could make strong representations.

"My plea for a return of the status quo received a sympathetic hearing from Mr Di Rienzo, who was not aware of the decision (made from Armidale) and who promised to make inquiries and come back to me," Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin then had a dialogue with HNELHD's Executive Director, Rural and Regional Services Susan Heyman, urging proper consultation with staff and the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association.

"I told Mr Di Rienzo and Ms Heyman that the timing of decision was in essence cruel, in the height of the drought and devastating water shortage," Ms Saffin said.