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Emergency nurses announce top concerns for 2015

Violence and budget cuts are just some of the big issues that need to be addressed as we head into 2015 for nurses working in hospital emergency departments.

The head of Australian College of Emergency Nursing (ACEN), Liz Cloughessy, said workload increases, an ageing workforce and triage training were amongst the other challenges causing havoc for emergency nurses this year.

“One of the biggest challenges facing emergency nursing at the moment is the increased number of patients presenting to ED under the influence of drugs and alcohol and the subsequent violence and aggression that ensues,” Cloughessy said.

She said incidences of physical assault against ED nurses, which have been a major concern for metropolitan hospitals, are now permeating small regional and rural hospitals, and that more needs to be done to protect workers.

Increased workloads as a result of continuous cuts to the health budgets are also widespread, The ACEN chief said.

“All of the emergency departments are experiencing increased workload with increased patient presentations,” Cloughessy said, “Add to this the pressure of meeting established benchmark targets and there is increasing pressure being felt on the clinical staff.”

She also highlighted the need to address the ageing workforce issue, particularly in light of the fact that many newly graduated nurses are looking to alternative career options – unable to secure employment.

Professional development and triage training, particularly in rural settings, were also her list for prioritising in 2015.

“There needs to be a major focus on ensuring that we have a skilled nursing workforce,” Cloughessy said, explaining that strategies should be put in place to ensure there is sufficient recruitment and clear pathways into emergency departments.

“There must be a commitment to ensure that the emergency nurse has opportunities to undertake education and training and to attend professional courses and conferences.”

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