Ratios get a big tick in survey

Nurses and midwives believe ratios have had a positive impact on the health system and are delivering better patient care according to a comprehensive survey of NSWNMA members.

With less than eight months to the expiry of the current Award, the NSWNMA has undertaken a comprehensive survey of our members to gauge attitudes about the health system. The survey also marks an initial step to formulating the log of claims for our next pay and conditions campaign.

The research found a relatively high level of satisfaction with the outcomes of the last pay and conditions campaign. There was a very high appreciation of the worth of ratios for safe patient care, and recognition that their expansion would be beneficial.

However there is some pessimism about the possibilities of improving ratios, and there was recognition that achieving positive outcomes from the next campaign would be much more difficult than the last.

The survey was completed by thousands of NSWNMA members.

Ratios are popular?

Nurses and midwives clearly recognise the value of ratios, although there is widespread concern that they are vulnerable to political interference. Eighty-one per cent of nurses and midwives saw ratios as being “very important” to patient care. Another 15% saw them as being “quite important”.

67% of respondents believe there has been a positive impact as a result of ratios/nursing hours. This feeling was particularly strong among young nurses. 80% of nurses and midwives under 25 years of age thought ratios had a positive impact.

While nurses and midwives clearly like ratios, they also feel they are not secure. Sixty-four per cent of survey respondents thought ratios were insecure (22% very insecure and 42% insecure). Thirty per cent said they weren’t sure how secure they were. The number of optimists who thought the government would keep ratios as they are, or would expand them, was a mere 4%.

A strong majority of nurses and midwives believe the extra numbers of nurses coming into the public health system are a result of pressure exerted through the NSWNMA’s ratios campaign.

Seventy-one per cent of survey respondents believed the extra numbers were a result of the last NSWNMA campaign, while 18% believed they were a result of a Labor government decision. Only 4% believed they were a product of an? O’Farrell Government decision.

Ratios are delivering safer care

NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes says the survey shows that those at the frontline of our public health system believe that ratios/nursing hours deliver safer patient care. “Our members are looking to the Government to maintain the ratios system and go one step further – expand it into specialty areas that did not benefit in the last two years and increase the nursing hours in regional and rural hospitals.

“What our members say about ratios is consistent with the increasing international research from nurse academics and health economists. Their studies show that higher nursing hours deliver lower rates of hospital-acquired infection, falls and cardiac-related mortality. The productivity and societal benefits of higher nursing hours are enormous.

“This Government has a mandate to deliver for regional NSW and improving ratios would be a clear demonstration that it wants to deliver high quality healthcare for the whole state, not just metropolitan areas.”

Many mistrust the mainstream media reporting of nursing. Just under half of respondents to the survey said they thought the mainstream media do not report fairly on nurses and their issues (47%).

In contrast NSWNMA communications had high levels of credibility. Half found NSWNMA information ‘very credible’. A further 42% found it credible. By far the most common communication method used with the union was The Lamp (96%).

Nurses and midwives showed themselves to be enthusiastic users of social media. 60 per cent use Facebook, 32% use YouTube.

The importance of ratios

Personally To the profession To patient care
Very important 45%  77% 81%
Quite important 28% 18% 15%
A little important 10% 2% 2%
Not very important 15% 1% 1%
Don’t know 2% 2% 2%