Plan to cut nurse hours at Nimbin hospital

A DISPUTE over a planned reduction in nursing staff at Nimbin hospital has culminated in an industrial relations hearing between the nurses union and the local health authority.

It's understood earlier this year the Northern NSW Local Health District announced it intended to cut the equivalent of one full-time nurse from the hospital, which the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association hotly contested.

At the union's request, the health district then prepared a report which concluded the staffing levels at Nimbin could be reduced.

The union disagreed with this recommendation, which led to the matter escalating to a hearing before the Industrial Relations Commission.

Nurses Association area representative Joanne McKeough wouldn't comment on the extent of the proposed reduction in nurse hours, but said it would have a "significant impact" on the Nimbin service, and that it wasn't sustainable for staff or patients.

"The bottom-line is we don't believe in a staffing reduction," Ms McKeough said.

"It would put an unreasonable amount of pressure on the staff that are left.

"The smaller the service, the greater the impact on the people that are left at the site and more importantly on the patients they service."

Ms McKeough added the case was "extremely important" to the community, saying the Nimbin multi-purpose centre service performed both essential emergency and aged care services for its community.

Northern NSW Local Health District chief of staff Wayne Jones said the health service was having discussions with the Nurses Association over the "required nursing resources needed to meet the clinical demands" of Nimbin hospital.

Outcomes from a recent meeting with the Industrial Relations Commission were "very positive", he added.

"The Industrial Relations Commission has requested that discussion continue at the local level between the NNSW LHD and the NSWNA prior to returning to the Industrial Relations Commission in August," he said.

"At this time, NNSW LHD is not in a position to comment further, in order to avoid jeopardising or influencing the ongoing discussions with the NSWNA."

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