Staff at a Brisbane hospital have been instructed to turn away patients presenting after 10pm, with management guidelines suggesting nursing staff offer sick patients a “blanket and pillow”.
Nurses and other health professionals at Wynnum Health Services, formerly Wynnum Hospital, have been told that patients presenting between the hours of 10pm and 8am should be treated outside the facility until an ambulance arrives – including those in life-threatening situations.
The guidelines from Metro South Health (MSH) go as far as to state “if BLS [basic life support] is required commence BLS at the front door”.
Dr Rosalind Crawford, MSH director medical services and facility manager Redland and Wynnum hospitals, said the decision to deny after-hours access was first enforced due to staff and patient safety concerns, and that the staff’s main priority was the patients in the 21-bed ward.
She said the majority of patients at the hospital were frail and elderly and should not be left unattended.
However, Des Elder, Queensland Nurses Union secretary, believes this puts nurses in an untenable situation of having to assess patients without any medical officer support or necessary equipment.
“This means they are torn between their duty of care to the patient and their professional obligations to work within their scope of practice,” Elder said.
“Clearly requiring staff to perform BLS at the front is what is expected. This is clearly an inappropriate and dangerous requirement.
“The guidelines are unreasonable and seek to transfer the risk and liability from the health service to the individual nurse and patient.”
Local residents plan to once again make their voices heard, Elder stating that the community does not accept the “spin” from the board as to why the emergency service was axed in the first place.
“It is on the public record that the hospital board believes the service should be provided by the private sector. It is just a plan to slowly privatise health in the area.”
MSH has confirmed that the directive is now under review.Do you have an idea for a story?
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