Action will escalate if Government won’t listen

The Lamp November10

NSWNA branches have unanimously voted to endorse the mandated nurse-to-patient ratios claim, and our research indicates that members are prepared to escalate action to show their support and pressure the Government to deliver safer patient care. The Lamp spoke with four members about the importance of ratios and taking action to win this crucial component of our claim.

More time to give patients proper care

Cuc Tran, RN, says winning nurse-to-patient ratios is very important to members at Bankstown Hospital Branch. ‘We need more time to give patients proper care. We don’t have enough time now. Other nurses feel the same way.

‘We would all welcome a pay rise but ratios are more important. I would rather go home after my shift happy, knowing my patients have been cared for properly. And patients are happy because they have received the proper care.

‘I’m prepared to take action to fight for ratios. We’ll wear our campaign t-shirts and I’ve already distributed community leaflets in my block.’

We’re all prepared to take action

Nurse-to-patient ratios will mean more time to look after all aspects of patients’ care, says Jila Talebi-Ardestani, RN at Bankstown Hospital. ‘Nurse ratios would mean we’d be able to do our jobs properly and provide complete patient care.

‘For me, ratios are more important than a pay rise. I put myself in patients’ shoes – they are suffering because we don’t have enough time to provide all aspects of patient care. Nurses are so busy they haven’t got time to talk and listen properly.

‘Bankstown Hospital Branch is ready to take action. We’ve all distributed leaflets, and we’re thinking about more action.’

If Government won’t listen, we’re prepared to fight

Debra Smith, NSWNA Councillor, works as a NUM in the pre-assessment unit at Auburn Hospital. ‘Nurse-to-patients ratios are really important in planning elective surgery. We need to know there is proper staffing and skill mix from the start of the pre-assessment process right through the patient journey until the patient is safely discharged home into the care of their family/friends. With mandated ratios, we would be able to adequately plan the number of patients coming through the system and know there will be adequate staffing to care for them. We try to do this now but because there are no mandated ratios, and if sick leave occurs, the post -operative wards can be very busy.

‘At the moment, we have to cut elective surgery lists because there is not enough staffing.

‘The Reasonable Workloads Clause hasn’t worked. We don’t have the tools to ensure we have the right staffing and skill mix; we’re running by the seat of our pants.

‘With nurse-to-patient ratios we know exactly what staffing is needed for safe practice. It’s there in black and white.

‘Ratios would mean there is light at the end of the tunnel of constant shortages. With ratios, if the staff aren’t available, beds are closed – and this is mandated. We may still need to cut elective surgery but we know the correct formulas and skill mix  to ensure safe patient care. At present, we are constantly crisis managing. If you think each day before you go in to work that you are going to be crisis managing, you don’t feel very enthusiastic about coming to work.

The Victorian experience shows us that nurses did flow back into the public system because they knew that the wards were adequately staffed, thus alleviating  the stress on their colleagues trying so hard to manage. Work became a pleasant place because Victorian nurses can provide the safe care that you’re educated to give.

‘It’s not acceptable that the Government can offer a pay rise but say “no” to ratios. For me personally, I would happily forgo a payrise, just give us ratios. But I understand nurses need a pay rise to keep up with the costs of living.

‘Achieving mandated nurse ratios is the most important thing in my 30 years of nursing.

‘Over the past month, the Branch has been taking action to show how important this is. We’ve all “done our blocks”. We’ve distributed thousands of brochures, we’ve even had our kids distributing them. The support of the community is important.

‘And we are prepared to take more serious action.’

Not acceptable Government has rejected ratios and skill mix claim

Wendy Goodman, NUM at John Hunter Hospital and NSWNA Councillor, says it is not acceptable that the Government has offered a pay rise but rejected our claim for nurse-to-patient ratios. ‘At the moment, we have to cut elective surgery lists because there is not enough staffing.

‘Mandated nurse ratios are essential. The current staffing model is not working; we’re unable to deliver the standard of care we should be providing. We’re working with staffing levels that are four to five years old.

‘The only way to ensure safe patient care is to have mandated nurse ratios. We need a system that ensures we have the right number of nurses, in the right place, with the right skills.

‘A pay rise is just not enough. Extra money is nice but it’s not just about money. We’re here first for our patients.

‘Members at John Hunter share this view.

‘The John Hunter Hospital Branch is prepared to take action to put pressure on Government. Members are passionate that ratios are the right course to take.