’NOT NOW, NOT EVER’: Group rallies against ED nursing cuts
A COMMUNITY group has escalated the fight against proposed cuts to Murwillumbah Emergency Department's nursing hours to the NSW Premier.
Save Murwillumbah Hospital Community Action Group has written to Gladys Berejiklian, calling for her to step in and immediately rule out the controversial cuts due to the threat of coronavirus.
The group recently formed in opposition to the plans to cut 24 per cent in total nursing hours at the local ED and distribute them to Ballina and Byron Bay hospitals.
If the Northern NSW Local Health District changes go through, hours for at least three full-time nurses will disappear from Murwillumbah District Hospital's ED to the other facilities.
Chair Kylie Rose said thousands had already signed a petition against the cuts that would "hurt the community".
"It's even more urgent now that the NSW Government stop these cuts in the face of coronavirus," she said.
"We depend on our ED and we need our hospital. We need to make sure that our hospital has the resources to support our community.
"You can't be cutting nursing staff. This is a matter of public safety. At a time when locals are being advised to visit their doctor or attend their ED if they develop symptoms of the coronavirus we need more staff - not cuts."
Ms Rose said as the situation with coronavirus worsens, local residents deserve to know "that our ED will be adequately staffed and resourced to deal with this pandemic".
"It is outrageous to be considering cuts to our emergency department at any time, let alone in the midst of what the World Health Organisation has declared to be a 'Public Health Emergency of International Concern," she said.
"NSW Health are advising locals to attend their Emergency Department if they develop symptoms of the coronavirus. We need more staff - not cuts. Not now. Not ever."
Earlier, NNSWLHD chief executive Wayne Jones told the Tweed Daily News there were no plans and had never been plans to close Murwillumbah District Hospital and staffing reviews were standard practise.
"NNSWLHD has reviewed nursing staffing in the EDs of a number of its hospitals to ensure we continue to meet patient demand by always placing staff where they are needed most," he said.
"We are enormously proud of the passionate, patient-centred care provided by staff at the hospital."
The Daily understands there are plans for meeting with staff at Ballina and Byron Bay hospitals next week after a consultation session held with Murwillumbah staff last week.