Luke Foley’s massive pledge on ratios

In a policy announcement that electrified NSWNMA annual conference delegates, Opposition Leader Luke Foley promised to immediately implement a new nurse-to-patient ratios system in our public health system.

Luke Foley told NSWNMA annual conference that when he became leader of the NSW Labor Party over three years ago he flagged his commitment to introduce nurse-to-patient ratios in emergency departments and paediatric wards.

“Today I want to build on that commitment. Very clearly, in front of you, the delegates of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association – I commit a future Labor government to introducing shift-by-shift, nurse-to-patient ratios.”

He acknowledged the Berejiklian government’s budget promise of an extra 950 nurses and said a Labor government would honour that commitment.

But, he said, “these numbers only dealt with attrition and population growth and do not address safe staffing levels”.

“That’s why we need shift-by-shift, nurse-to-patient ratios: to deliver safe staffing levels, to deliver you better workplaces and to deliver a better quality of care to millions of our fellow citizens in our mighty public health system.

“I get it. I’ve heard you,” he said.

Foley said Labor, on gaining office, would immediately change the award and “convert the existing nursing hours system to nurse-to-patient ratios”.

“Let me be clear what nurse-to-patient ratios means from my perspective. That means we deliver a ratio of one nurse to four patients on every morning and afternoon shift and one nurse to seven patients on night shifts in our medical and surgical wards.

“We will start immediately when we come to office. We will get cracking right away.”

A great day for country hospitals

The Opposition leader also had good news for country hospitals.

 He said an incoming Labor government would bring ratios to all B and C group regional hospitals lifting their staffing to large city hospital levels.

“That means hundreds more nurses in regional hospitals,” he said.

Foley also addressed the problem of nursing specials and promised to work with the NSWNMA “to address and fix” them.

Foley complimented nurses and midwives for the work they do in delivering “world class” health care and paid tribute to the sacrifices they are prepared to make for the welfare of their patients. 

“It really came home to me in the recent pay issue when the NSWNMA membership – you and your workmates – made it clear that an even greater priority for you than the pay rise issue was delivering safe staffing levels through nurse-to-patient ratios.

“In the end what is this about? In my view ratios mean manageable workloads for nurses and midwives. Ratios speed up patient recovery. Ratios save lives.”

Luke Foley also thanked delegates “for the wonderful result to stop the privatisation of five regional hospitals. Thank you for all you did.”

“One of my concerns is that if I can’t get Labor across the line in eight months’ time and these Liberals and Nationals are reelected they’ll line up again and have another crack at privatising public hospitals. You just can’t trust them on this.”

A giant leap for patient safety

NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes welcomed the announcement to new ratios and highlighted the difference it would make for patients.

“This commitment from NSW Labor is a giant leap in the right direction for patient safety. After eight years, nurses and midwives are finally being listened to,” he said.

“Under this system, the health of country communities will be made a priority and for the first time, emergency departments and other specialty areas will have a new, reliable ratios system with a guaranteed minimum ratio on every shift. This is a real breakthrough.

“Ratios will save lives – evidence proves it. It’s a reliable system that meets the needs of patients and will put NSW on the right track to a more sustainable health system.

“I urge all members to consider this when they cast their vote in the state election in March 2019.”

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