THE nurses' union says Hunter New England Health has agreed to "review" staffing numbers in John Hunter Hospital's medical imaging department after an industrial relation commission hearing on Friday.
Although Hunter Health would only say it was "meeting" with the nurses, union members said they were pleased with the outcome of the conciliation hearing held in Newcastle.
Union officials said the problems had been a decade in the making but that Commissioner Damian Sloan had urged both parties to look to the future. Hunter Health took the dispute to the commission last week after the nurses proposed a two-hour stop-work meeting.
They nurses say the imaging department, which conducts various scans and biopsies as well as X-rays, is understaffed.
In a statement issued before the commission hearing, the health service said it was recruiting to fill two vacant nurse management positions and was using casuals to "support unplanned absences".
It was providing "additional support and resources to the department.
After Friday's hearing, registered nurse and union representative Christine Hele said the problems in the department had been a decade in the making.
"It is a state-wide issue, but it has reached a crisis point within our department," Ms Hele said.
Ms Hele said the health service employed 30 nurses in the imaging department on hours that were equivalent to 22.6 full-time jobs.
She said an increased workload, including patients coming from as far afield as Coffs Harbour, was making things harder, as was the increasing complexity of the work due to the increasingly specialised equipment and techniques involved.
The union wanted a nurse educator to be employed in the department to help the staff keep up to date with their skills.
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