Standing up for patients in the Shire

Nurses and midwives at Sutherland Hospital are concerned about their ability to deliver safe patient care after a budget overrun at South Eastern Sydney LHD.

Seeing Red over Ratios trailer at Sutherland Hospital. Top: Branch President Warwick Moriarty with colleagues at the Sutherland Hospital rally.
Seeing Red over Ratios trailer at Sutherland Hospital. Top: Branch President Warwick Moriarty with colleagues at the Sutherland Hospital rally.

Nurses and midwives from Sutherland, Ryde and Campbelltown have held rallies to highlight inadequate staffing in their hospitals, relative to neighbouring facilities, and to collect signatures on a petition that would trigger a debate about ratios in the New South Wales Parliament.

As The Lamp went to print NSWNMA members had collected more than 80,000 signatures and had their target of 100,000 in sight.

Sutherland Hospital has less ratios/nursing hours per patient day than St George, Prince of Wales and Wollongong Hospitals.

Warwick Moriarty, president of the NSWNMA Sutherland Branch, says this means that a ward with 30 patients at Sutherland receives 15 hours less nursing care per day than a patient in a similar ward at nearby hospitals.

“With better ratios we would be looking after four patients for one staff. It would be much safer and more manageable. We’d have less sick leave, less stress for staff and better care for patients,” he said. “We’re here not only to support Sutherland staff in our campaign for nurse-patient ratios but also we’re looking across the whole state and supporting other areas, particularly country areas and community nursing, who are all doing it tough at the moment.”

Gaye Napper, a NUM in Maternity at Sutherland Hospital, said all staff members were working extra hours.

“It’s difficult to replace staff because of the funding. It is difficult to replace those who are on long service leave or on maternity leave. We’re told to keep it safe but there is no funding for that so we are constantly over budget.”

A prominent supporter at the Sutherland rally was Barry Collier, newly re-elected MP for Miranda, who voiced his concern at the raw deal being dealt out to patients of Sutherland Hospital compared to other hospitals.

“I was personally involved in the building of these hospitals as the local member down here. Patients aren’t getting the same level of care [at Sutherland] you get at St George and other hospitals. Mr O’Farrell you have to do something about this. We want the same level of care at Sutherland Hospital as you get at St George and everywhere else. Do the right thing and stand up for us in the Shire.”

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Petitions can be downloaded from the “Ratios put patient safety first” campaign area of the NSWNMA website. The petition asks the NSW Legislative Assembly to mandate nurse-to patient ratios in all hospitals – including country hospitals in the public health system as well as some specialty units.