Staff protesting at Yass Hospital in February.
A paramedic from Sydney was left to run Yass District Hospital which had no doctors to staff it, according to an open letter from workers to the state government that slammed the situation as dangerous and ongoing.
Twenty-four staff associated with the hospital have signed the open letter, seen by the Times, demanding urgent action to address a “staffing crisis” at the facility.
Addressed to NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Health Minister Brad Hazzard, the letter warns the clinical workforce are at “breaking point”.
“The staffing crisis we are currently facing … we believe, is placing the general community at great risk of harm,” the letter states.
“Clinical staff are unable to provide quality, and at times safe, patient care.
“Nursing staff have attempted to raise these concerns with local management through various meetings with no resolution.”
The open letter also cited two incidents over the Christmas period where the staff shortages at Yass became critical.
On the night shifts on December 24 and 25, no registered nurse was available.
Instead, a locum doctor, enrolled nurse and a health security assistant were left to cover the hospital during this time, the letter alleged.
They reportedly had “no orientation to the facility or knowledge of where emergency equipment was located or how to use it”.
“At no time were the Yass community notified of the staffing situation or potential for adverse health outcomes,” it said.
On the days that followed the hospital was staffed by a paramedic brought in from Sydney alongside an enrolled nurse.
The letter alleged the paramedic was placed in charge as the “senior clinician with no triage capacity or knowledge of the hospital”.
“This is unprecedented and left the community of Yass in a dangerous situation had they required emergency assistance during this time,” the letter said.
In the open letter, staff denied the workforce issues were temporary.
“Yass District Hospital has an ongoing, increasing and unsustainable staff shortage resulting in the hospital not having enough nursing staff to fill the base nursing roster required to operate the facility.”