‘Make sure this is your legacy’

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The Special General Meeting received strong encouragement and wise words of advice from two nursing unions who have already been through battles for ratios and won – the Californian Nurses Association and the ANF Victoria.

ANF Vic Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick described the long, bumpy road travelled by her members.

‘In Victoria, ratios were not just handed over. We fought for ratios in 2000, and had to fight in 2001, 2004 and 2007 to keep them,’ she said.

Lisa said it has taken Victorian nurses 10 years to win and consolidate ratios in the Victorian public health system.

‘Now the Victorian Government has made a commitment to extend and improve ratios as part of its election platform,’ she said.

‘Ratios will only be achieved with determination and courage. Make sure this is your legacy.’

The Californian Nurses Association also sent a strong message of support.

‘It was direct-care nurses that led the charge on behalf of our patients and fought off repeated hospital industry attempts to erode the ratios, including a famous year-long fight with our famous Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who tried to roll back the law in late 2004. But we prevailed as you will too.’

‘Stay the course, sisters and brothers. Our thoughts are with you at this critical juncture in the fight for the safety of your patients and the future of the profession!’

Other messages of support

Warren Anderson (Vanessa’s father):

‘As with many factors that contributed to Vanessa’s death, the most heartbreaking part was a department adhering to a budget as a priority over patient welfare. In other words, our daughter could be with us now if the budget allowed the two empty high-dependency beds just 20 metres away to be staffed, but they weren’t.

‘When you are fighting this cause keep in mind the terrible experiences of the nursing staff that were on duty and responsible that night. The commission refusing to give hearing on your claim must be made aware of the shocking consequences that will inevitably result should the 1 to 4 ratio not happen.’

Lee Thomas, Federal Secretary ANF:

Today is an important day in the history of your professions. You are making a strong and united stand for your patients and yourselves. Today the strength of the entire Federation of 196,000 members is standing with you in your fight.

Gay Hawkesworth, Secretary, Queensland Nurses Union:

Queensland nurses and midwives stand with you in support of your vital campaign to ensure safe patient care. Our thoughts are with your dedicated members taking this important action. If there is anything the QNU can do to assist your members in their courageous efforts please do not hesitate to call upon us – we will be there for you.’

President of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation (NSW), Dr Tony Sara:

‘As doctors working in the public health system alongside nursing staff, we see the effects everyday of nurses working short-staffed and with not enough senior nurses looking after patients. Minimum nursing numbers, together with an appropriate skill mix, will contribute to the effectiveness of healthcare teams and go a long way to improving the health care that the NSW community receives.’