Shoalhaven nurses are being "stretched to their limits" as the COVID-19 crisis exacerbates existing pressures on the hospital system, according to a union representative.
Michael Clarke, president of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association's Shoalhaven branch, said regional hospitals were already facing serious nurse staffing shortages prior to the pandemic and as cases rise, the health system is "at risk of falling apart".
"The health system is under pressure in this state, just like right around the country...as we move through this pandemic," Mr Perrottet said at a press conference on Friday.
"It is going to be a difficult few weeks ahead but the tracking that we are releasing today is very reassuring and encouraging given where we sit today in the pandemic."
Mr Clarke, who spoke on behalf of the union, said the health system is "barely hanging in there" and isn't holding up as Mr Perrottet has suggested.
"As this Omicron wave worsens with more positive cases and hospital presentations, the health system is actually at risk of falling apart," he said.
"You're asking the same persons to come back to do extra shifts and do overtime and that can only go on for so long.
"I've seen those comments from Mr Perrottet, but the association has particular issue with them because the health system isn't holding up the way he suggests."
Mr Clarke told the South Coast Register that not only were nurses facing longer, harder working hours in full PPE, but more emotional labour was required of them, too.
With visitors restricted from hospitals, he said nurses are providing extra emotional and mental support for patients.
"My colleagues and I do 12 hour shifts in PPE," he said. "We're exhausted, we're tired."
"Members on the ward tell me they're stretched to their limits. There's often not enough nurses to look after patients on their wards or departments.
"Staff constantly ask if someone can come in for overtime shifts to cover shortfalls in the roster.
"We have to be at the patient bedside and help them through what's often quite a frightening time.
"It does add more to our workload, with an extra compassion understanding that we have to provide in these circumstances."
Mr Clarke said Shoalhaven Hospital management work cooperatively and productively with staff, but that the local health district needs to improve recruitment and retention of more nurses so adequate patient care can be provided.
"What our ongoing concern has been for some time is issues with staffing," he said.
"From the branch's point of view, nurses are let down by LHD, which needs to provide the appropriate staffing and resources to manage patients in a safe manner."
CEO of the ISLHD Margot Mains said there are "well developed workforce surge and demand management plans in place for all of (the ISLHD's) hospitals" and there are support measures in place for staff during the pandemic.
"We acknowledge that our staff are facing challenges never seen before because this is a one-in-100-year pandemic and there is no rule book," she said in a statement sent to the Register.
"The district has and will continue to work through issues and challenges as they arise and we wholeheartedly acknowledge our amazing staff for their continued hard work and commitment to keeping our community safe.
"ISLHD management works with medical, nursing and midwifery staff across our district to ensure staffing levels are reviewed and adjusted on a daily basis based on patient need and areas of highest demand.
"The district has in place significant support measures for all staff including an Employee Assistance Program and social and wellness programs, many of which have been developed specifically in response to COVID-19, as well as resources and advice for managers and supervisors."
This week, the Shoalhaven has recorded 1034 new COVID cases detected from PCR tests, with rapid antigen test numbers not included in these figures.
As at 8pm Thursday, there were 103 people in ISLHD hospital's as a result of COVID, up from 96 the previous day.
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