MP feels nurse pressure

Lamp_May_2012_Cover

In 2010 Bruce Knotley-Smith, now the Liberal state MP for Coogee, was keen to be seen as a supporter of our campaign for ratios. Now he has his seat in parliament his support seems to have evaporated.

Jan Ogden was one of a delegation of nurses from the Prince of Wales (PoW) hospital who recently visited Liberal state MP for Coogee, Bruce Knotley-Smith, to seek his support to protect nurse-to-patient ratios, and other workplace rights, now under threat from the O’Farrell Government.

“We asked him where he stood. He wouldn’t commit himself. He obfuscated a fair bit. He promised to get back to us within a month after he did some ‘research’. He was non-committal. He just gave a party line,” she said.

“When we campaigned for ratios he supported us. He had his photo taken with one of our red shirts in the park for the local newspaper. But when we asked for his help this time he didn’t appear very supportive. He was a bit slippery.

“We told him we were very concerned that ratios and other workplace conditions, that we won and were now legally enforceable, could be taken away by the O’Farrell Government. A unilateral decision made about our award without our consultation! We explained how that was not good for nurses in the public health system nor for proper levels of patient care.”

Carolyn Hook

Carolyn Hook

Carolyn Hook, also from PoW, accompanied Jan to see Knotley-Smith. She too was less than impressed by his reaction.

“We told him we don’t want to lose our ratios – they are crucial to the staff at Prince of Wales and they deliver better patient outcomes. We don’t want to lose them after such a hard campaign and when they aren’t even completely implemented yet. Why would you take something away that is working perfectly well?

“He jumped all over the place. He didn’t want to hear what we had to say,” she said.

Both Jan and Carolyn say that even though Knotley-Smith was unresponsive it was well worth the effort to visit him and put him on the spot about what his government is doing.

“I went to see him because I want to put my point across even if it does fall on deaf ears,” said Jan.

Carolyn agreed: “I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t do something about it. Each one of us should do something to look after our collective interests as a profession – sign petitions, see an MP – do whatever we can.”

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Nurses tell Jillian Skinner ratios must stay

Siovhan Schreiber (Manly Hospital), Edward Makepeace (RNSH), Jillian Skinner MP, Holly Allen, Nurse Manager Greenwich Hospital, Tammy Devereux, Mona Vale Hospital.

Siovhan Schreiber (Manly Hospital), Edward Makepeace (RNSH), Jillian Skinner MP, Holly Allen, Nurse Manager Greenwich Hospital, Tammy Devereux, Mona Vale Hospital.

On 19 April, Edward Makepiece, Holly Allen, Siovhan Schreiber and Tammy Devereau met Jillian Skinner, the NSW Minister for Health.

The delegation of nurses told the Minister of the importance of minimum, mandated nurse-to-patient ratios that are enforceable and embedded in the award.

The Minister gave no commitment to maintaining ratios but said ‘NHPPD will stay in the award’.

When told that the NSWNA hoped to expand the areas that had converted to ratios in the future she said ‘Let’s work with what we have for now’.

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Ratios roll out on track

The nurse-to-patient ratios won in our last pay and conditions campaign are scheduled to be phased in over two years. The table below gives a snapshot of how the implementation is going according to schedule.

Ratios Implementation Timeline

Local Health District

2011-March 2012

Between
April-June 2012

Between July 2012-
June 2013

Total

No. Wards Converted

Additional FTE delivered

No. Wards Converted

Additional FTE delivered

No. Wards Converted

Additional FTE delivered

No. Wards Converted

Additional FTE delivered

Albury Wodonga Health

4

19.73

0

0

0

19.73

4

19.73

Central Coast
Local Health District

14

40.48

1

1.3

4

23.78

19

65.56

Far West
Local Health District

2

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

Hunter New England
Local Health District

35

89.87

1

3.07

20

82.11

56

175.05

Illawarra Shoalhaven
Local Health District

22

55.12

4

24.68

7

35.22

30

115.02

Mid North Coast
Local Health District

11

26.52

1

8.55

7

9.07

15

44.14

Murrumbidgee Local
Health District

10

12.03

0

0

0

0

10

12.03

Nepean Blue Mountains
Local Health District

9

25.55

0

0

4

7.46

13

33.01

Northern NSW
Local Health District

17

28.74

4

6.07

6

14.44

23

49.25

Northern Sydney Local
Health District

28

74.96

4

16.35

7

24.75

37

116.06

South Eastern Sydney
Local Health District

32

82.89

6

24.43

20

77.52

57

184.84

South Western Sydney
Local Health District

26

91.42

3

11.89

20

106.28

45

209.59

Southern NSW
Local Health District

11

14.78

0

0

0

0

11

14.78

Sydney
Local Health District

30

95.22

2

11.62

9

29.61

41

136.45

Western NSW
Local Health District

9

16.66

2

3.48

9

15.19

16

35.33

Western Sydney
Local Health District

28

38.75

1

11.75

8

26.42

32

76.92

Total for Wards, ED and
Acute Adult Mental Health*^

288

712.72

29

123.19

123.19

451.85

411

1287.76

  • Additional Full time equivalent (FTE) for operating theatres currently being negotiated.
  • ^ Additional FTE funded for birthing units for Birthrate Plus implementation= approx. 141 FTE for Stage 1 and Stage 2