THE Director of Nursing at Warwick Hospital has dropped a bombshell and resigned.
Claims that staff shortages have put patient safety at risk are among a number of worrying allegations aimed at the hospital administration.
Nursing Director Jane Waite - who has held the very senior role since September last year - says she had no choice but to quit. She claims to have been bullied by her superiors and highlights her concerns that a lack of staff structure has compromised patient safety.
IN HER damning letter to the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Board (a copy of which is in the hands of the Daily News) Mrs Waite says: "It is with great regret that I must advise you that I will no longer be seeking a permanent substantive position as Director of Nursing/Facility Manager at Warwick Hospital Health Service.
"I have agonised over the decision for a number of weeks, and it is not one that I have made lightly. It is however, a decision that I feel I have been forced into."
She said her requests for "necessary and fully justified" FTE (full-time equivalent staff members) to ensure "safe staffing levels at Warwick Hospital were not formally recognised or activated".
"Although the service at Warwick is now more clinically stable due to some structures we have put in place, eg nurse in charge after-hours and a CN manager in the Emergency Department, this has had to be done within current FTE constraints, which is not possible without compromising safety elsewhere.
"A (sic) unacceptable, and costly, casualisation (sic) rate of 10 FTE has added to the current unsafe staffing."
Despite the accusations, Mrs Waite says other staff at the hospital have been great to work alongside, and thanks her line manager for their support.
But she condemns what she claims was the hospital's "repeated, unsubstantiated, and unfounded accusations in regard to my work performance, and your failure to respond to my requests for any detail or evidence to support these accusations".
Mrs Waite also lists:
"Your dismissal of the exemplary, mid-probation performance review that was completed by my line manager.
"The constant undermining of my position by anonymous parties, and your willingness to accept this behaviour.
"Two separate threats of dismissal, both delivered by you, and both based on misinformation and completely inaccurate assessments of situations.
"I am astounded that you appear to believe this kind of behaviour (bullying) is acceptable," Mrs Waite says.
"Inadequate staffing continues to put patient safety at risk. Furthermore I believe strong parallels can be drawn between the situation that has been allowed to develop at Warwick in recent years, and the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Enquiry in England and the Douglas Enquiry into the King Edward Memorial Hospital, WA.
Mrs Waite said she was unable to add further comments to the letter.
How the hospital responded
"AN EMPLOYEE of Warwick Hospital tendered her resignation and made a number of accusations about poor treatment and support shown to her by the rural division of the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service," board member Megan O'Shannessy said.
"The DDHHS takes these matters seriously and made contact with the complainant to clarify the facts which may support any of the allegations.
"At this point ... no evidence has been provided in support of the allegations. "However, the individual has issued a second piece of correspondence which has been widely distributed.
"It casts further aspersions on the management of the rural division of the hospital and health service.
"The DDHHS is working through the appropriate process to determine the facts ...
"On behalf of the board, I can give my assurance that we take the provision of excellence in healthcare services at Warwick Hospital and across the whole HHS very seriously.
"Southern Downs residents can have every confidence in the professional care they will receive at Warwick Hospital or any of our facilities."