Staff members outside Bundaberg Hospital.
Staff members outside Bundaberg Hospital. Scottie Simmonds

Hospital staff numbers doubled

FIVE years ago the community health integration program (CHIP) at Bundaberg Hospital was barely staffed with just one nurse.

Now the building is bustling with activity with nine full-time clinical nurses, a graduate nurse, admin staff and allied health professionals employed.

The growth at the CHIP unit is just part of what has happened at the hospital since 2005, with staff numbers growing rapidly.

At the end of June the hospital had 121 full-time equivalent (FTE) doctors, 385.7 FTE nurses and 54.35 FTE allied health professionals.

“This is more than twice the number of clinical staff employed as at June 30, 2005,” Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service District northern cluster manager Beth Norton said.

In a reply to a question on notice lodged by Member for Burnett Rob Messenger, Health Minister Paul Lucas said since 2005 the hospital had gained 64 doctors, 199 nurses and 57 allied health professionals.

CHIP acting nursing unit manager Peta Thompson has been with the hospital for the past 24 years and has been working at CHIP, which co-ordinates in-home outpatient care, for the past four years.

“We aim to provide a smooth transition between inpatient care and the home environment,” she said.

“It’s been quite impressive to watch it grow and it’s a big benefit to the hospital.”

Ms Thompson said the CHIP unit looked after about 20 patients a day at home, at their offices or at aged care facilities — a much larger number than allowed for with just one nurse.

Ms Norton said the growth in clinical staff had allowed more specialist nursing.

“These include a cancer care co-ordinator, clinical nurse consultant discharge planner, clinical nurse consultant wound manager, a liver and gastroenterology clinical nurse, and additional nurse educator positions,” she said.

Other appointments at the hospital include doubling the number of general surgeons to four and the appointment of a medical director for the emergency department to complement six new emergency beds.

“Additional medical positions have resulted in improved quality, throughput and service delivery,” Ms Norton said.

Mr Messenger said he was hesitant to say whether the increase in staff was a small step in the right direction until he had more information.

“Why are we sending so many people to Brisbane for treatment if we have so many more staff here in Bundaberg?” he said.

Mr Messenger said he would also like to know how many of the staff were hired on a casual basis.

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