Friday, January 14, 2005

TGWU highlight Staff shortages in Health Service

Move to new hospital questioned

TGWU Nursing Section has called on the Gibraltar Government to reconsider the transfer and opening of the hospital until “appropriate manning levels are met” to deliver the expected standard of health care.

In a hard-hitting statement the Union accuse Government of lacking a long term planning strategy “despite the much trumpeted state of the art hospital, clinical excellence and ‘root and branch’ cliches,” that will affect the smooth running of the services to be delivered.

In a statement yesterday the Union said:

“In the light of the opening of the “State of the Art’’ hospital, we fail to comprehend how the Government has neglected the crucial responsibility of recruiting staff at the Elderly Care Agency to meet the demands of the care of the 75 elderly patients awaiting transfer to Mount Alvernia. We believe a historical opportunity can be easily lost if the Government does not realise that they have to ensure adequate human resources must come before the process of ‘change’ and the move to the new hospital continues.”

A Nursing Section spokesman said:

“We also wish to comment regarding Government’s intention to put on hold part of the services previously offered to patients in the GHA. These ‘cuts’ will come in a disguised form due to the Government failure to adequately resource the Elderly Care Agency with sufficient staff to man the extra 65 beds that it can now theoretically be absorbed from both the GHA and the community.

Following the Government refurbishment of Mount Alvernia as stated in the Chief Minister’s New Year Message, and now with only weeks to go, the nurses are being told that Gibraltar Health Authority staff will have to move to the private care home. At the same time a number of planned projects in relation to the new hospital will not materialise because of the shortage of staff created in the GHA as a direct result of these manoeuvres, in not recruiting the personnel for the expanded services generally.”
“Nursing staff, as other employees clearly under-stand, are concerned that the result of this move by the Government will have an adverse effect in the provision of adequate care to our patients. We further believe that a historical opportunity can be easily lost if the Government does not realise that they have to ensure before this process of ‘change’ continues, that adequate human resources must come before the move.

Already in the last four weeks nurses have yet again seen very dangerous low levels of care in St Bernard’s Hospital. We have seen wards to full capacity, eight patients cared for in television rooms and corridors, patients being cared for in the wrong environment, dangerous low levels of staffing in all wards and departments, wards being manned during a full 12 hour shifts with only one trained nurse and one assistant. Furthermore the Accident and Emergency department manned with two nurses and at the same time expected to deal with life threatening situations. The continuation of this working environment is demoralising the nurses, many are already at the end of their tether.

In the light of the opening of the “State of the Art’’ hospital, the TGWU Nursing Section fail to comprehend how the Government has neglected the crucial responsibility of recruiting staff at the Elderly Care Agency to meet the demands of the care of the 75 elderly patients awaiting transfer to Mount Alvernia.

The lack of foresight adds unnecessary pressure on the presently Nursing Staff in St Bernard’s, by expecting Nursing Staff to deploy to the Elderly Care Agency to staff the new floor, which will accommodate these patients. This move will result in depleting the already overworked staffing complement and a delay in the opening of other clinical areas, such as the orthopaedic ward.”

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