Our resolve for better ratios is undiminished

Nurses and midwives deserve the pay rise they are about to receive but our patients deserve safe ratios as well and we will continue to fight for them on their behalf.

As The Lamp goes to press a majority of NSWNMA Public Health system branches throughout the state have voted to accept the NSW government’s offer of a 2.5 per cent pay increase.

19 Branches have expressed their anger at the Government’s refusal to negotiate on our full Award claim by voting to reject the pay offer. I appreciate their commitment to the claim and preparedness to sacrifice their wage increase.

I stand by the recommendation endorsed by the NSWNMA Council to accept the pay offer and continue to campaign in the community for safe ratios as a matter or life or death.

This pay increase is the same as offered to all other public health employees. Teachers and police have also accepted a 2.5 per cent increase for 2018.

NSWNMA negotiators have met  with senior officers of the Ministry of Health in 7 long meetings over the last two months. We also met with the Minister of Health, Brad Hazzard.

Outside the 2.5 per cent increase there was one concession that rosters should be provided four weeks in advance.

There was a categorical “No” to deliver a guaranteed better Award ratios system.

This is the seventh consecutive year that the government and NSW Health have refused to negotiate
for genuine Award improvements.

The Ministry of Health:

  • Refused to provide specials in addition to the numbers
  • Refused to count babies as patients in post-natal for maternity staffing
  • Refused to apply ratios shift-by-shift instead of averaged over a week
  • Refused to stop the midnight census which under-counts patient numbers
  • Refused to extend ratios to small hospitals and specialties like paediatrics, community, ED, critical care and parts of mental health.

Ratios are unfinished business

While they were prepared to accept the 2.5 per cent pay offer NSWNMA branches made it crystal clear they are not prepared to give up the fight for better ratios.

On the contrary, the overwhelming majority of our branches passed resolutions to step up the fight for safer staffing.

The overwhelming majority of our branches made a statement that they would “stand together and act to show the government that safe patient care can only be delivered through better, guaranteed nurse to patient ratios”.

The overwhelming majority of our branches resolved, “to continue standing up for patients, because ratios are a matter of life or death”.

The last seven years have shown us that the government is determined to deny NSW nurses and midwives any improvements to their working conditions or to improve the safety and care of our patients with better ratios.

They have passed laws that prohibit Award improvements like ratios for public sector workers unless you sacrifice your existing Award conditions to pay for them. These laws stack the cards against nurses and midwives.

The public is listening to us

We have consulted widely with nurses and midwives and you have consistently told us as that your highest priority is a stronger ratios system and that should not be achieved at the expense of your existing Award conditions.

The Association has listened to members and consistently refused to consider “trade offs”.

Although the government and NSW Health continue to ignore the overwhelming international evidence that ratios saves lives we know the public is listening to us.

We need to redouble our efforts and to mobilise all our resources to grow the support we have in the community.

There are many things that every member can do, in your workplace and in your local communities, to build this support.

We have a plan to improve and extend ratios that will bring the public health system up to best practice. That plan is for a system that delivers safe ratios on every ward and on every shift, across the state.

Let’s take that plan to the public and ultimately let them make the decision on what sort of health system they want for NSW.