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In Brief

Sympathy over nurse's death

• The Australian Nursing Federation has expressed its sympathy over the death of UK nurse Jacintha Saldanha. In a statement, Lee Thomas expressed her sympathy and sadness at the tragic death of Saldanha who was part of the global nursing community. "We hope that all of those involved in this tragedy both here in Australia and in the UK, now receive the appropriate counselling and support throughout this very difficult time," she said. Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of England's Royal College of Nursing also expressed sadness, stating: "It is deeply saddening that a simple human error due to a cruel hoax could lead to the death of a dedicated and caring member of the nursing profession."

Baby health cancellations
• The ongoing nursing shortages in Tasmania have been blamed for the cancellation of 860 child health appointments for mothers with new babies. Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne said that staffing issues meant a higher level of cancellations than they would have liked, while Australian Nursing Federation Tasmanian secretary Neroli Ellis described the cancellations as "extreme". The Opposition's children's spokeswoman, Jacqui Petrusma, told Parliament: "There is something seriously wrong when Tasmanian mums and babies can't even get access to a childcare nurse."

WA graduates miss out
• About 570 nurse graduates have not been given places in a graduate program offered by the WA Health Department. The program, which helps nurses make the transition from study to the workforce, provides necessary experience for people needing jobs. Graduates that missed out protested on the steps of Parliament recently concerned about job prospects given that most hospitals look for nurses with experience. Opposition spokesman Roger Cook says that the government cannot afford to lose nurses given the expected shortages in the future.

Ward for elderly closed
• The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (South Australia Branch) has lodged a dispute against SA Health's decision to close ward 1A at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, a ward that provides care for elderly people awaiting assessment for suitability for high-care nursing home placement. The federation's chief executive, Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars, said that even though the ANMF sought a commitment from SA Health that no closure was to be made to the ward without consultation, no such commitment has been forthcoming. This comes after the Premier 12 months ago indicated the government would desist from "announcing and defending" decisions but rather be more consultative.

Bathurst nurses plea
• Nurses at Bathurst Hospital in NSW are continuing to campaign for an increase in staffing levels. Concerned with the rising number of seriously ill patients, staff in the emergency department are calling for an extra nurse on each shift. Brett Holmes, general secretary of the NSW nurses and Midwives Association, said the emergency department is being staffed at the bare minimum and that understaffing had been a problem for a long time. The National's state MP for Bathurst, Paul Toole, said if talks with the local district health board were unsuccessful, he would appeal to the Health Minister.

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