NSWNA launches campaign to win ratios

Nurse-to-patient ratios campaign launched after strong endorsement from members.

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes publicly launched the NSWNA claim for nurse-to-patient ratios on 20 September after a resounding ‘yes’ vote from public health system members. One hundred and seventy-five Branches at public hospitals and services voted on the claim for nurse-to-patient ratios in early September, with a ‘yes’ vote from 174 Branches.

Nurse-to-patient ratios is part of the 2010 Claim for a new Award for public health system nurses and midwives.

Brett Holmes told media at the launch: ‘Public hospital and community health-care nurses across NSW want a major overhaul of the State’s public hospital and health-care system through the introduction of mandated minimum nurse-to-patient ratios.’

The claim includes nurse-to-patient ratios for the nursing specialties of medical, surgical, emergency, palliative care, rehabilitation, inpatient mental health, community health, community mental health, critical care and the 2008 ACORN tool for operating theatres.

‘Nurse-to-patient ratios would be the biggest reform of the NSW public health system in decades. Nurse-to-patient ratios would mean certainty with nurse numbers and skill mix. There would be a mandated number of nurses for a certain number of patients.’

‘The NSW health system has been plagued by nurse shortages and poor skill mix for a long time. Research conducted by the NSWNA reveals a climate of unrelenting pressure on the nurses and their deep concerns for patient safety.’

At the media conference, NSWNA members Stephanie Dart, CNE from Mount Druitt Hospital; Clare Waite, CNS at RPA Hospital; and Luke Marks, RN at Orange Base Hospital explained recent cases they have experienced that highlight the pressure on nurses.

‘Despite the best efforts of nurses, the NSWNA, other health workers, the Health Department and the State Government, the pressure on nurses to provide timely, safe care has continued to grow,’ said Brett.

Over the coming weeks NSWNA members are gearing up for a very determined community campaign to win ratios. The campaign will include advertising, public events and meetings with State and Federal politicians.

Still no response to claim

The NSWNA still has not received a response from NSW Health to the 2010 public health system pay claim. The NSWNA submitted the pay and interim ratios claim in May and the final NSWNA ratios claim, which was approved by members, in September.

The claim included a 5% pay and pay-related allowances increase per year over the four-year agreement and improvements in conditions such as 1% extra super, reinstatement of higher grade duty payments for every shift, increased paid maternity leave and paternity leave.

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes said NSW Health has had three months to respond to the claim. ‘We’re now pressing the department for a timely response. It’s time for a fair offer with decent pay and the conditions that nurses deserve.’

Committee of Delegates passes motion for community campaign

The NSWNA Committee of Delegates (COD) meeting passed a resolution on 21 September to conduct a determined community campaign to ensure the Government delivers a fair offer of wages and staffing ratios.

The COD expressed concern at the failure of the NSW Government to provide an offer to nurses and midwives to secure fair pay and conditions since our Award expired on 30 June 2010, and demanded that the Government provide an acceptable pay and conditions offer by no later than Wednesday 6 October 2010, or face an escalating campaign.