NSWNMA members at two of western Sydney’s biggest hospitals – Liverpool and Bankstown – and their nearby community health services today officially launched their local campaigns for a new Public Health System Nurses & Midwives (State) Award.
The claim challenges the O’Farrell Government to build on the safer hospital staffing levels introduced in 2011 under an agreement between the NSWNMA and previous Labor government.
Ratios put patient safety first
Today’s western Sydney campaign launch details
Date: Wednesday, 1 May 2013
Liverpool hospital (Liverpool Hospital and Liverpool Mental Health NSWNMA branches)
Venue: Liverpool Hospital, Elizabeth St Liverpool – Staff food court
Speakers: NSWNMA Liverpool branch members
Venue: Bankstown Hospital, 68 Eldridge rd Bankstown – Medical Cafe
Speakers: NSWNMA Bankstown Hospital branch members
The statewide Ratios put patient safety first campaign was launched in Sydney on Tuesday, 19 March. Launches have already been held at Katoomba-Blue Mountains, Muswellbrook-Upper Hunter, Tamworth, Bathurst, Goulburn, Nowra, Grafton, Kempsey, Maitland, Wagga Wagga, Gilgandra, Royal Prince Alfred, Ryde, Coffs Harbour, Belmont, Mount Druitt, Blacktown, Queanbeyan, Royal North Shore, Port Macquarie, Nepean, Manly, Cowra, Griffith, Parkes, Shellharbour, Taree, Moree, Narrabri, Auburn, Mona Vale, Orange, Fairfield, Prince of Wales, Sydney Children’s and the Royal Hospital for Women.
The final local launches, similar to today’s two western Sydney launches, will be held around the state over the next two weeks.
NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said today’s launches in western Sydney again show community support for safer, properly-regulated nurse and midwife staffing levels is growing.
“This strong community support for the Ratios put patient safety first campaign, including from other unions, professions, trades and local community leaders, builds on the record number of 214 NSWNMA branches that voted to endorse the union’s 2013 staffing ratios and wages claim for this new award. It also confirms the importance of safe, high quality and free public hospital and community health services to every Australian.
“Nurses and midwives working under the first round of compulsory, minimum ratios are clear they have provided a safer clinical and less stressed working environment. There is no doubt mandated minimum staffing arrangements protect safe staffing levels. Staffing levels can be assessed against a mandated minimum requirement, which means we can act decisively when governments and hospital managers try to undermine safe staffing just to save a bit of money.
“The challenge for the O’Farrell Government is to build on this and ensure every public patient in NSW has access to the same level of safer care.
“That means that in the big western Sydney hospitals, such as Bankstown and Liverpool, we must also get mandated minimum staffing arrangements extended to seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and community health services.
“For example, in emergency departments around the State there should be a guaranteed minimum of one nurse per three patient treatment spaces/beds, and in most there should also be an in-charge nurse and a triage nurse on each shift.
“For intensive care units, including neo-natal intensive care units, there should be one nurse/midwife per patient plus an in-charge nurse/midwife on each shift. In high dependency units there should be a minimum of one nurse for every two patients, plus an in-charge nurse, and in critical care units the minimum should be one nurse for every three patients, plus one in-charge.
“Community health nurses and midwives should have a maximum of four hours per shift contact time with patients, leaving four hours to attend to associated duties.
“The O’Farrell Government is very willing to take credit every time a new batch of nurses or midwives is employed to fill the new positions created by the first round of ratios, which were actually agreed between the NSWNMA and previous Labor government.
“Many, including Mr O’Farrell himself, were out in recent weeks boasting about employing 4000 extra nurses and midwives since the current government came to office. The fact is, that is a simple head count and includes part-timers and casuals. The reality, in terms of full-time-equivalents, is much lower than that, with about 1700 FTEs being the nurses and midwives required to meet the first round of safer staffing ratios.
“While welcoming the State Government’s compliance with those ratio requirements, it will be interesting to see how it reacts now that it has a chance to act in its own right and extend this reform into other important areas such as emergency departments, high dependency units, children’s hospitals, rural facilities and community health services.
“If it does not heed the strong message being sent by the State’s nurses and midwives and their local communities and do the right thing, then this Ratios put patient safety first campaign will escalate,” Mr Holmes said.
A record 214 NSWNMA branches, representing more than 35,000 public-sector nurses and midwives throughout NSW, have endorsed the NSWNMA’s ratios and wages claim, which was then formally presented to the State Government, through the Health Ministry, on March 11. The current Public Health System Nurses & Midwives (State) Award expires on June 30 this year.
A key feature of the 2013 claim is guaranteed, safer nursing levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services, and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services.
The claim also includes two 2.5 per cent per year payrises, which will provide the majority of experienced, full-time nurses and midwives with a payrise of more than $70.00 per week, or more than $3800.00 per year, by July 2014.
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