Proposed ratios claim ready

A proposed ratios claim has been developed for eight specialty nursing areas, after empirical research by academics and widespread consultation with nursing experts.

After extensive consultation and research, a proposed claim for mandated staffing ratios for eight nursing specialty areas has been developed by the NSWNA.

The proposed claim for mandated nurse to patient ratios will now go out to public health sector members working in the specialty areas of general medical wards, surgical wards, palliative care, rehabilitation, emergency departments, community mental health, inpatient mental health and community health at information sessions to be held throughout NSW.

The NSWNA will hold information sessions between 28 July and 20 August at metro and rural public health system facilities across NSW.

‘Public health system members will be invited to attend the meetings to discuss the proposed ratios claim,’ said NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes.

‘Specialist nurses understand the staffing requirements in their nursing area and it is essential they have the opportunity to discuss the proposed ratios claim for their specialty area.’

In July, the NSWNA will widely distribute via email and the NSWNA website information about when and where these information sessions will occur.

Members will then be asked to vote on the claim before the final document is served on NSW Health and the Government.

The proposed claim for mandated staffing ratios was developed after extensive data collection and research.

The first stage of research was a survey conducted in January to March of staffing levels in a number of wards in public health system services across NSW.

The NSWNA then commissioned a major research project of nurse staffing levels and skill mix issues, which was led by nurse workforce and industrial relations academics, Associate Dean (Research) (Acting), UTS Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, Christine Duffield, and Director, University of Sydney Workplace Research Centre, John Buchanan.

NSWNA Officers visited over 400 public health facilities in May to consult with Nursing Unit Managers and convened expert panels to get input from experienced nurses in the specialty areas of medical and surgical wards, palliative care and rehabilitation units, emergency departments, community health, inpatient mental health units, as well as community mental health services.

‘This research and consultation provided crucial information about staffing issues and the staffing requirements in these specialty areas, and this information has informed the development of the proposed ratios claim,’ said Brett Holmes.

Pay claim negotiations underway 

The NSWNA has held two negotiation meetings with NSW Health about the 2010 pay and conditions claim for public health system members. The claim was presented to NSW Health and the Government in May.

The claim includes a 5% pay and pay-related allowances increase per year for all nurses and midwives, over a proposed four-year agreement.

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes said: ‘We’ve had no response from the Government yet, even after two negotiation meetings. Nurses deserve a fair pay rise in recognition of their hard work and responsibility, and the NSWNA will keep up the pressure to achieve a decent pay and conditions offer for NSW public health system nurses.

‘The NSW Government still maintains a policy of a 2.5% pay increase per annum for NSW public sector employees, and if workers want a higher pay increase they then must accept “offsets”.

‘The NSWNA rejects this policy – it’s a bean-counting approach that fails to give nurses the recognition and reward they deserve.

‘Rail unions are also in Award negotiations with the Government, and they’ve been offered 2.5% per annum plus more if they agree to various “efficiency measures”. Their agreement expired at the end of March 2010 and there is still no end in sight to these negotiations,’ said Brett.