The NSW Government is refusing to provide guaranteed, safer nursing and midwifery levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services, and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services, the NSWNMA said today.
The O’Farrell Government is also seeking to discount its legislated 2.5 percent annual payrise cap to fund the increase in compulsory superannuation.
NSWNMA officials were formally advised of the State Government’s position late last week.
NSWNMA workplace delegates from around the State will now consider the Association’s response, to the State Government’s position, at its bimonthly Committee of Delegates meeting in Sydney tomorrow night, 21 May. (See list of rural attendees attached. Most Sydney facilities will also be represented.)
It is expected the delegates will vote to escalate the Ratios put patient safety first campaign, which is challenging the O’Farrell Government to build on the safer hospital staffing levels first introduced in 2011 under an agreement between the NSWNMA and previous Labor government.
A record 214 NSWNMA branches, representing more than 30,000 public-sector nurses and midwives throughout NSW, have endorsed the NSWNMA’s claim, which was formally presented to the State Government, through the Health Ministry, on March 11. The current Public Health System Nurses & Midwives (State) Award expires on June 30 this year.
A key feature of the 2013 claim is guaranteed, safer nursing and midwifery levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services, and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services.
The claim also includes two 2.5 percent per year payrises, which will provide the majority of experienced, full-time nurses and midwives with a payrise of more than $70.00 per week, or more than $3800.00 per year, by July 2014.
NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said the O’Farrell Government stands condemned for refusing to extend safer, compulsory staffing levels into keys areas such as rural hospitals, children’s wards, emergency departments, intensive care units and community health centres.
“Public hospitals and community health centres are essential social services, which should provide quality affordable care for everyone in NSW.
“There is no doubt mandated minimum staffing arrangements protect safe staffing levels. Staffing levels can be assessed against a mandated minimum requirement, which means we can act decisively when governments and hospital managers try to undermine safe staffing just to save a bit of money.
“Nurses and midwives at many of the larger Sydney hospitals and at the Wollongong and John Hunter hospitals have already had experience working under the first round of compulsory, minimum staffing ratios and they are clear that the ratios have provided a safer clinical and less stressed working environment.
“In the second stage of implementing this important staffing reform, we must ensure that patients at all public hospitals, including in rural areas, have the same guaranteed minimum nursing levels in the general wards as the big Sydney hospitals and that emergency departments, high dependency and intensive care units, children’s wards and community health services also have guaranteed safer nursing levels.
“It is no longer acceptable to leave the staffing of emergency departments, high dependency units and community health centres to chance. However, the O’Farrell Government does not seem to understand that yet.
“The initial feedback we have received from members and delegates who are aware of the State Government’s position is anger and determination to escalate the campaign. The decision on what to do next will be made at tomorrow night’s crucial delegates’ meeting,” Mr Holmes said.
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