Nurses fear for safety of patients
Worries: Nurses fear for safety after guard numbers cut. Picture: The West Australian

Nurses say the safety of patients and staff is at risk because Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital is cutting the number of guards monitoring unstable patients.

The Australian Nursing Federation said yesterday that guards were essential to watch patients who could be a danger to themselves and others.

WA State secretary Mark Olson said the cuts showed the bizarre priorities of the Government.

"It seems that Premier Colin Barnett and his crew would rather blow taxpayers' cash on legacy projects rather than ensuring the safety of West Australians in our public hospitals," he said.

"Someone has to monitor these patients. If the Government is going to cut back on guards, then that additional work will fall to the nursing staff, which will mean that patient care will suffer and nurses are put at risk."

Mr Olson said staff, patients and visitors should not be put in danger because the Government could not balance its Budget.

Australian Medical Association WA president Richard Choong said he was shocked to hear of the cuts.

"This is extraordinary and will have a negative impact on safety at the hospital by putting the lives of patients and all staff at significant risks," he said. "Obviously the bean counters are in charge and have more regard for the bottom dollar than lives of doctors, nurses and patients."

The hospital, referring to the guards as patient companions, said their numbers had been falling, with no adverse impact on patient safety.

This was particularly the case since the recent opening of a mental health observation area for physiologically stable mental health patients who would otherwise need companions.

A spokeswoman would not confirm how many positions had been cut, saying only the hospital had reduced a cap.

"If daily requirements exceed the cap, senior nursing staff are consulted to approve additional companions if this is necessary," she said.

The West Australian

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