Tasmanian Rural Hospitals – Safe Staffing Project

Ms Karen Schnitzerling1, Ms Fiona Young1, Ms Cate Pel1

1Tasmanian Health Service, Australia


Tasmania has 13 small Rural Hospitals which are all unique in regard to regional characteristics, bed numbers, bed types, emergency activity, medical support, outpatient presentations, community services, and visiting health services.  One thing our Rural Hospitals do share is the passion and commitment of staff and the support and investment of the local communities.

With the competing demands on our health system we have needed to maximize the use of our Rural Hospitals to assist with patient flow throughout our health system and to have the ability to accept patient transfers from metropolitan sites particularly in periods of high demand.  To manage this patient flow, we have had to review the clinical staffing of Rural Hospitals and have embarked on establishing a ‘Safe Staffing Model’.

With no identified comparative staffing model that would transpose across the Rural Hospitals, a state-wide working group was formed in February 2018 to define a proposed model.  I will outline how we defined a staffing model, how we consulted, the outcome, and the next steps.


Karen Schnitzerling is the Director of Nursing for Beaconsfield District Health Service and George Town Hospital & Community Centre in northern Tasmania.   Both sites have small rural hospitals.