Boisterous launch to 2013 campaign

Cover story - boisterous launch to 2013 campaign - SH0214More than 300 nurses and midwives gathered outside Parliament House in Sydney to send a clear message to politicians that our campaign to extend and improve ratios is under way.

The official launch of the 2013 Public Health System campaign took place outside parliament on March 19, after a record vote by NSWNMA branches to endorse the claim, and with the claim in the hands of the state government.

Delegates from branches throughout the state symbolically mailed messages to Barry O’Farrell urging him to improve and extend ratios in our public health system and to agree to a well-deserved pay rise.

NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes told the gathered crowd that the almost unanimous vote in favour of the claim underlined the massive support among nurses and midwives working in NSW for improvements to the ratios that are working well in our public health system.

“We’re here to make a big noise and those who aren’t here are with us in spirit – in their tens of thousands,” he said. “This overwhelming support fires our determination, because it proves New South Wales nurses and midwives demand one thing above all else – safe patient care. We know that nurse-to-patient ratios delivered by mandated minimum nursing hours, maximum face-to-face hours for community nurses and BirthRate Plus enshrined in our legally enforceable award is the only way to deliver safe patient care.”

Brett was joined on the speakers’ rostrum by two nurses, Katrina Lee and Emily Orchard, who are the faces of the campaign in the Association’s TV ads. A message was also read out from the third nurse in the ads, Mimi Chu who, ironically, could not attend due to a heavy workload.

The case for improved ratios

Katrina Lee, with long experience of work in state rural hospitals, set out the compelling case for improving ratios in country hospitals.

“In a 20-bed ward of a rural hospital there are 20 hours less for nursing care than in a city hospital. It’s just not fair. It’s just not safe,” she said.

“When a colleague is sick and not replaced we all pitch in to get the tasks done. Most importantly, when there aren’t enough nurses we cannot always give the care we want to give.

“No longer should rural Australia settle for less. It’s time to get the right number of nurses in the right place.

“Every patient deserves the very best care that we can give no matter who you are, no matter where you live.”

Mimi Chu, a community nurse, sent a message for Barry O’Farrell.

“Today’s babies are tomorrow’s future, they are our most important people and they deserve VIP treatment. Quality community health services save governments money because we keep people out of hospital. It’s so important that community nurses have enough time to spend with our patients to ensure they get the best care possible and that’s why ratios are important – to ensure that we can provide the best face-to-face time with our patients.”