NT News

Beds shut at Palmo ED

Union estimates up to 100 more nurses needed

- THOMAS MORGAN POLITICAL REPORTER

NT HEALTH has closed a third of beds in the Palmerston Regional Hospital’s emergency ward amid a staffing crisis engulfing the Top End’s hospital system.

The government admitted on Thursday afternoon that eight of Palmerston’s 24 emergency beds would need to be shut because of a lack of nurses available.

The revelation came at the same time NT Health announced the Code Yellow deimpact clared at Royal Darwin Hospital on Wednesday had been revoked.

Earlier on Thursday, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Union NT secretary Cath Hatcher said up to 100 nurses may need to be recruited to help ease pressure on the Top End’s beleaguere­d health system.

Talking to Mix 104.9FM’s Katie Woolf, Ms Hatcher said “probably between 60 and 100” nurses would be needed to fill the gaps.

It follows Wednesday’s declaratio­n of a Code Yellow at the Royal Darwin Hospital for the fourth time in 12 month.

A Code Yellow means some non-essential surgeries are cancelled to help redirect capacity to other parts of the health system, including the emergency department.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles on Wednesday said the Code Yellow had been declared partly because of around 50 aged and disability care patients needing beds at the RDH.

Ms Hatcher said a “purpose-built aged care facility” needs to be built now to ease pressure on the Top End’s healthcare system.

“Community support for the aged care and disability services within the community – that would help alleviate some of the beds enrolled on pumps and hospitals,” she said.

In response to Ms Hatcher’s comments, Ms Fyles said the crisis was not unique to the Territory.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put unpreceden­ted pressure on health systems across the globe and the Northern Territory is not immune to this,” Ms Fyles said.

“The closure of internatio­nal borders has had a significan­t

on access to skilled health staff for both urban areas and remote parts of the Territory,” she said. Threequart­ers of Territoria­ns have been partly vaccinated.

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RDH emergency department

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