Safety is still a major consideration in the challenge of signing up and retaining nurses and midwives in remote areas.
According to an ABC report, nurses continue to attend call-outs unaccompanied despite the murder of nurse Gayle Woodford in a remote area in South Australia. The health worker was abducted and killed during a late night call-out in March 2016. The thirty-five-year-old perpetrator pleaded guilty and is due for sentencing next month.
CRANAPlus CEO, Christopher Cliffe, said the tragic death of Ms. Woodford prompted action on the importance for nurses to always be accompanied during call-outs.
“All people who work in remote Australia were traumatized by that but it’s certainly shone a light onto some of the things that we were just prepared to put up with,” said Mr. Cliffe.
“We certainly don’t expect policemen or ambulance or fire brigade people to respond as an independent person let alone when you’re in a remote community with limited infrastructure, it’s just a bit crazy.”
CRANAPlus is currently working on the development of new guidelines for remote health workforce safety and security, which will be published this month.
In December 2016, it became mandatory in the New Territory to have back-up during call-outs.
“All nurses need to go out with somebody and that somebody should be a trusted community member,” said Acting chief nursing and midwifery officer for the Northern Territory, Heather Keighley.
“That person should be employed and paid by the health service and that person should also be given training according to the requirements of the role.
“We are looking a lot at pathways to employment for Aboriginal people from communities where the services are.”
Ms. Keighley said addressing safety issues would improve staff recruitment and retention.
“After the unfortunate passing of Gayle Woodford, people became reluctant to go into communities where there wasn’t a second responder policy so it was more difficult to recruit for those positions,” she said.
“People are much happier to take those placements in the Territory now where we’ve got that policy.”
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