Orwellian tactics to obstruct research

The New South Wales Ministry of Health has tried to stop nurses and midwives from participating in an important academic study into ratios.

"... staff are not breaching the Code of Conduct by completing it." - Brett Holmes
“… staff are not breaching the Code of Conduct by completing it.” – Brett Holmes

NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes says that, despite directions from management not to participate in the research, nurses and midwives are entitled to have their say.

“It has become clear that not only does the Ministry of Health fear the result of the research into ratios, they are attempting to stop nurses and midwives from expressing their professional opinion,” he said.

“Any direction could only apply to paid work time and nurses and midwives could legitimately complete the survey in their own time using their own computer, tablet or smartphone.

“This survey did not ask for patient or personal information or records or official, sensitive or confidential information, and staff are not breaching the Code of Conduct by completing it. The conduct of the survey is entirely consistent with NSW Health’s claimed commitment to collaboration, openness, respect and empowerment as set out in the Code of Conduct.”

Brett said the research was the first part of a longitudinal study into the NSW ratios system. It is academically sound and is being coordinated by the University of Technology Sydney, he said.   “

This research will have a substantial long-term impact in terms of patient safety and nursing workloads and it is of critical importance that we are able to obtain the views of the profession around the impact of ratios.”


The Ministry’s heavy-handed tactics have not succeeded. Despite the obstacles put in their path over 2700 nurses and midwives completed the survey providing a strong, statistically significant base for the research to continue.