GRAFTON Base Hospital cannot attract enough nurses for its maternity ward and emergency department and a wage cap will only make the situation worse, a nursing union representative claims.
Grafton branch members of the NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) met Country Labor candidate for Clarence Peter Ellem and NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson yesterday to discuss issues at the hospital including funding for orthopaedic surgery and equipment.
NSWNA branch secretary Kassie Packwood said nurses had two issues at the hospital; the inability to attract nurses to work at Grafton and convincing administrators to recognise there were positions that needed to be filled.
Ms Packward said the hospital could not attract staff to specialty positions in maternity and the emergency department.
"We (the hospital) have been advertising for midwives and simply haven't been able to attract any," she said.
The union said the staff shortage meant emergency beds had to be closed because it was unsafe to use them without a nurse rostered on to staff them.
Ms Packwood said the NSW Government's recent 2.5% wage cap would only make it harder to attract more staff.
"Nurses moving here from Queensland or Victoria would have to take a real cut in wages and conditions," she said.
Mr Ellem accused the National Party of being "too timid" over Grafton Base Hospital.
"The National Party has been far too timid in their approach to Grafton Base Hospital - I am demanding the immediate funding of orthopaedic surgery for the hospital," he said.
"The O'Farrell-Stoner Government needs to invest at least $900,000 into refurbishing the pathology unit to ensure the future provision of these services at Grafton Base Hospital."