Members get active for Campaign 2010

Members at public health facilities have been busy organising barbeques and information sessions, drawing attention to the important issues in the NSWNA’s pay campaign.

Around 300 nursing staff from Sutherland and St George Hospitals attended barbeques in the hospital grounds last month.

Nurses wanted to show their support for the Association’s move to ensure safer staffing through mandated nurse-to-patient ratios.

‘This is our biggest concern,’ Stephen Oakden, NUM, Branch Vice-President, told WorkChoices. ‘It’s important we have set in stone ratios we can hang our hats on to say how many nurses we have on the wards, and what proportion of registered and enrolled nurses, so we have the proper skill mix to guarantee better patient care.’

Stephen said ratios were also important to protect nursing staff as well as patients. ‘We need to make sure nurses are reasonably comfortable in their working lives so you don’t have a high turnover. If they are not happy they won’t stay. We’ve always prided ourselves on retaining nursing staff at St George, especially RNs but also ENs. If we start to do things like not replacing sick leave and asking the wards to work down – which is what is happening at the moment – that puts huge pressure on nurses.

‘There seems to be an informal directive that the first sick leave call on morning shifts is not to be replaced on the wards if there is another individual there, and that normally means the CNE, so it’s taking the CNEs away from the roles they were supposed to do and that is of concern. Ratios give you a framework to start with,’ said Stephen.

The St George barbeque was one of many events that saw nurses in hospitals across NSW jump into action to ensure that the messages of the pay campaign were heard loud and clear. Members at Sutherland Hospital also took a proactive approach by holding information sessions and barbeques to garner support for the campaign.