As The Lamp goes to press, members are voting on the staffing ratios component of the public health system claim.
For the past month Judith Kiejda, Lisa Kremmer and I have criss-crossed the state with NSWNA organisers to explain the details of our ratios claim and what we are trying to achieve.
In all the meetings we have attended there has been very positive feedback about the structure of the claim. NSWNA branches are just about to vote on this component of the 2010 public health system pay and conditions claim as The Lamp goes to print.
The vote brings to a close a long, intensive process of consultation and validation about our proposed solution to the crippling staffing issues that have bedevilled the public health system for far too long.
The interim ratios claim was fine tuned after members provided feedback at 55 meetings throughout the State, and the State Government will be served the final ratios claim in the second week of September 2010 – if approved.
We still have no response to the wages component of our claim served in mid-May.
Where to from here?
We now enter a phase of our campaign where we start to exert pressure on NSW Health and the State Government to deliver a solution to the pressing problem of your ability to provide safe levels of patient care due to staffing and skill mix issues.
Throughout September we will be bringing all MPs up to speed on the details of our claim and with members’ involvement advocate for it as a solution to make our public health system better.
It will be important that all nurses in the public health system join together in action if we are to win a satisfactory outcome for this part of our claim.
Without doubt the State Treasurer Eric Roozendaal will cry poor and argue that the claim is totally unaffordable.
We understand that the funding of ratios and future supply of appropriately-skilled nurses are significant issues but it is our responsibility to advocate and act for safe patient care. Both these issues can be addressed with some government commitment.
Our members need a staffing mechanism that is transparent, funded and enforceable if they are to provide a safe level of care.
Guaranteeing a mandated minimum nurse-to-patient ratio in our public health system is, in our opinion, the best thing that our State Government could do in the interests of the people of NSW.
Hiding behind a AAA credit rating doesn’t help a patient in a hospital or a client in the community who isn’t receiving the care they need to be a productive member of our community.
It will be a significant test of the NSWNA and its members to convince the community and our State politicians that a significant investment in the public health system is of the highest priority for the people of NSW.
If we are to win ratios in this campaign, we need a strong commitment and active participation from public health system members and strong community support for what we are trying to achieve.
Annual conference decides no name change
For those members who haven’t been given feedback by their delegates from annual conference I can advise that the NSWNA will not be changing its name.
There was extensive debate at conference about this issue and delegates decided not to change the wording in our name from ‘Association’ to ‘Union’, nor to incorporate midwives into our title.
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