Health Minister admits system under pressure but does not reveal Geraldton hospital staff numbers

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Health Campus.
Camera IconGeraldton Health Campus. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/The Geraldton Guardian

The State Government has been unable to confirm the extent of staffing shortages affecting Geraldton Health Campus, with reports nurse and midwife numbers are low.

Referring to claims made by Australian Nursing Federation secretary Mark Olson, Opposition leader Mia Davies on Tuesday told State Parliament the Geraldton hospital could be short 40 full-time nurses.

She also said many hospitals in the Mid West relied on a fly-in, fly-out workforce.

“I would assume that, given the health situation we face with COVID potentially arriving on our doorstep any time, we would want money to be spent to secure staff in a permanent manner in the furthest reaches of our State,” she said.

“They are vulnerable communities that will not survive without support.”

Health Minister Roger Cook would not say how many (if any) current staffing vacancies are at the Geraldton hospital.

“I cannot confirm that Geraldton Health Campus is short 40 nurses. I can confirm that we have a highly constrained nursing and midwifery workforce right across the system,” he said.

“Traditionally, for regrettable reasons, when we have a shortage of nurses and midwives in the metropolitan area, that situation tends to be compounded in regional and remote areas as well.”

Mr Cook was on Wednesday asked to provide the numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives employed at the hospital from 2019 to now.

But the information was unavailable and the question was put on notice.

Member for the Agricultural Region Steve Martin said reports the local healthcare workforce was under pressure had come from within the sector, with staff saying they were “very nervous” about workload demands.

Mr Martin said he was concerned staffing shortages would damage regional hospitals’ capacity to manage future COVID outbreaks. “I don’t think we are ready,” he said.

“Geraldton Health Campus is the Tier 1 facility for the Mid West and is the primary provider for many in the region.

“It needs to be well-staffed.”

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