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Maitland Hospital’s nurses, midwives at ‘breaking point’

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Nurses are travelling home from Maitland Hospital in tears while others feel inadequate about the job they’re undertaking at the moment.

That was feedback offered to NSW Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park, Maitland state MP Jenny Aitchison and Labor candidate for Upper Hunter Peree Watson when the trio met with local members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) this week.

The get-together outside the $470 million facility, which opened in January 2022, allowed both parties to discuss a myriad of issues, which health workers face on a daily basis.

One of the concerns raised was the urgent need for additional staff to address the extreme wait times in the Emergency Department (ED) and the expanding elective surgery list.

“We’re constantly under the pump, which is causing undue stress on employees,” a NSWNMA Maitland branch representative said.

“It’s very deflating.

“It is hard to leave a shift knowing that you couldn’t give your patients exactly what they needed.”

Recent Bureau of Health Information (BHI) data revealed 2,560 people left the Maitland Hospital ED without, or before, completing treatment.

When compared to the same quarter in the previous year (October-December 2021), there was an increase of 61.7% (977 attendances).

“The BHI data [for Maitland Hospital] echoes alarming trends in NSW’s hospitals and health system, after 12 years of the Liberals and Nationals,” Mr Park said.

“Patients presenting at Maitland are continuing to pay the price when there aren’t enough health workers in our hospitals.

“The people who look after us need more support.

“There is widespread burnout, fatigue and under-resourcing in our hospitals.

“A Labor government’s package will help train the paramedics, nurses, doctors and allied health professionals we require to begin the work to repair our hospital system.

“The NSW health system cannot cope with another four years of band-aid solutions.”

Ms Aitchison admitted she was very concerned about the situation.

“Our incredibly hard-working and dedicated health workers are exhausted and stretched to the limit,” she said.

“We need to ensure that staff have the support they need and that there are more of them to allow them to do their job safely – it’s really that simple.

“The current NSW Government has failed to adequately invest in our state’s hospitals.

“And, as a result, we now have a situation where people are forced to wait in the back of an ambulance or in overcrowded emergency departments for long periods of time or, worse, not get treated at all because of long delays.

“I’ve spoken to paramedics and nurses about what it is really like in our emergency wards – every day, every night and on every shift.

“They’re not just tired, they’re exhausted and they’re leaving in droves because this government isn’t listening.”

Ms Watson said Upper Hunter residents were actively avoiding Maitland Hospital.

“The stories that I am being told are horrifying – patients in ED for two days, treatments being undertaken in hallways, patients simply walking out,” she stated.

“This is so wrong.”

Labor’s fresh start for health and hospitals in NSW

Labor has a comprehensive long-term plan to redesign and repair the health system and deliver a fresh start for health in NSW.

Under Chris Minns, Labor promises to:

  • Provide scholarships for thousands of nurses, doctors, paramedics, and allied health workers each year to staff our hospitals
  • Implement Safe Staffing levels in NSW hospitals. It will help with workloads; it will take pressure off nurses and ensure they can treat patients with the care they deserve and need
  • An additional 500 rural and regional paramedics in Labor’s first term, supported by three new helicopter ambulance bases

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