Nurses threaten bed closures at Dubbo (AAP) - ( 4U5TR4L14 )

Six beds at a regional NSW emergency room will be shut down until all nursing vacancies at the hospital are filled, the nurses’ union says.

Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) at Dubbo Hospital have voted to close the beds from Monday afternoon and ban unreasonable overtime in the emergency department from next month.

The NSWNMA says the six beds – which make up the hospital’s Emergency Medical Unit and are among a total 20 emergency department beds – will be out of action until new staff are recruited to all nursing vacancies and are actively working in the emergency department, or the empty spots are filled by agency nurses.

The union’s Brett Holmes says staffing levels are dangerously low, with 32.21 full-time equivalent (FTE) full positions trying to cover an emergency department that should have 41.05 FTE staff members.

“It is unsafe for patients and staff and the ED nurses are right to act decisively,” he said on Sunday.

“This Dubbo staffing shortage is also further evidence of the need for mandated, minimum nurse-to-patient ratios in all clinical areas, including EDs, in our hospitals.”

The nurses’ fight for minimum ratios to be rolled out statewide prompted mass walk-outs in July.

Nurses want the government to guarantee a ratio of one nurse to every three children and emergency department patients, one nurse per single patient in intensive care units and one nurse to four patients in all other wards.

They are also demanding a four-hour cap on patient contact time per eight-hour shift in community health services

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