Nurse Staffing Standards for South Australia Emergency Care Settings

Nurse Staffing Standards for South Australia Emergency Care Settings

The College of Emergency Nursing Australasia has released a statement to its national membership outlining the required nursing staffing standards for South Australian Emergency Care Settings, both rural and metropolitan.

This statement is in response to the concerns from the South Australian Branch of the College relating to the proposed changes to the healthcare system through the Government of South Australia’s Transforming Health initiative.

Ms Karen Hammad, President for the South Australian College of Emergency Nursing Australasia says the changes “will have a significant impact on Emergency Departments within the state. his may subsequently lead to increased waiting times.”

Ms Hammad says “There are increased workload pressures on nurses working in SA EDs. This is complicated by the state government’s proposed changes to healthcare.”

Mr Shane Lenson, Executive Director for the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia says “Australian EDs are facing an increase in patient attendances, during 2013-2014 over 19,700 patients per day nationally. It is widely agreed that patient presentations to the ED will continue to increase”.

According to a study by Professor Christine Duffield, a Professor of Nursing and Health Services Management, EDs are experiencing a more complex patient case load, increasingly presentations of patients with multiple comorbidities, and have increasing presentations of patients with rates of chronic disease and acuity and are we now have a more culturally diverse patient population.

Ms Karen Hammad, President for the South Australian College of Emergency Nursing Australasia says “There are numerous system wide issues particularly relating to in-patient capacity which impact directly on the ability to move admitted in-patients in the ED to in-patient treatment areas. This results in access block and an inability to treat patients in a timely manner when they present to the emergency department. This in turn has a direct impact on the South Australian Ambulance Service (SAAS) who is often required to ramp patients as EDs are unable to accommodate patients in an appropriate clinical space within the ED”.

SA has 16 designated EDs, 13 in the public sector and three in the private sector. These departments vary greatly with regards to size, patient profiles, number of attendances and staffing making it difficult to develop a one size fits all approach to nurse staffing. Additionally nurses are working in a variety of emergency care settings across the state.

The College is calling on the Government of South Australia to consider a model which takes into account the unique nature of emergency nursing work while acknowledging variation across all emergency care settings in SA.

Mr Lenson states that “it is essential for EDs to have adequate nursing roles to support the timely and efficient assessment and management of emergency patients. EDs should consider roles such as clinical support roles, adequately trained team leaders, mental health nurses. These roles should be supported by other nursing roles such as: nursing directors, trauma nurse coordinators, patient flow coordinators, nurse managers, clinical service coordinators, nurse educators, research nurses, equipment nurses, discharge nurses, and disaster nurses”.

A full position statement can be located HERE

Click HERE to listen to Karen being interviewed on ABC radio

Further information:

Mr Jamie Ranse, Associate Executive Director, CENA,


Release date:

8th March 2016