Upper Hunter nurses and midwives launch campaign for safer staff ratios and competitive wages

NSWNMA members at Muswellbrook Hospital and across the Upper Hunter region will today launch their local campaign for a new Public Health System Nurses & Midwives (State) Award.

The campaign¬†challenges the O’Farrell Government to build on the safer hospital staffing levels introduced in 2011 under an agreement between the NSWNMA and previous Labor government.

The statewide Ratios: Put patient safety first! campaign was launched in Sydney on Tuesday, 19 March. Local launches will be held around the state over the next few weeks.

A record 214 NSWNMA branches, representing more than 30,000 public-sector nurses and midwives throughout NSW, have endorsed the NSWNMA’s ratios and wages claim, which was then formally presented to the State Government, through the Health Ministry, on March 11. The current Public Health System Nurses & Midwives (State) Award expires on June 30 this year.

A key feature of the 2013 claim is guaranteed, safer nursing levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services, and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services.

The claim also includes two 2.5 percent per year payrises, which will provide the majority of experienced, full-time nurses and midwives with a payrise of more than $70.00 per week, or more than $3800.00 per year, by July 2014.

Ratios: Put patient safety first!

Upper Hunter campaign launch details

Date: Thursday, 21 March 2013

Time: 11.00am

Venue

Ron Adams Room, Muswellbrook Workers Club, Bridge St.

Followed by a walk to local State MP, George Souris’s, office to present the claim.

NSWNMA branches invited

Muswellbrook Hospital, Scone, Singleton, Denman and Merriwa

Speakers

Local nurses

Lisa Kremmer, Ratios Campaign director

Possibly Muswellbrook Shire mayor (see support letter attached)

NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said Muswellbrook Hospital is a case study in why mandated minimum staff to patient ratios are necessary in all hospitals and community health services.

“Without mandated minimum ratios the State Government has been able to ignore the Muswellbrook Hospital Safe Staffing campaign, which has been trying for many months to secure an extra RN for the emergency department (ED) and special care unit (SC), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“It is obvious to anyone with a modicum of common sense that there should be at least one registered nurse in the SC at all times and at least one RN in the emergency department at all times. The rules governing cardiac nursing also require such minimum staffing levels. Cardiac patients and/or their monitor must be in the RN’s line of sight at all times. That is impossible at Muswellbrook, at the moment, if the RN has to attend the ED.

“All this proves the importance of mandated minimum staffing arrangements to protect safe staffing levels. Staffing levels can be assessed against a mandated minimum requirement, which means we can act decisively when governments and hospital managers try to undermine safe staffing just to save a bit of money.

“That is why we must get mandated minimum staffing arrangements extended to seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units, rural hospitals, multipurpose services and community health services.

“The O’Farrell Government is very willing to take credit every time a new batch of nurses or midwives is employed to fill the new positions created by the first round of ratios, which were actually agreed between the NSWNMA and previous Labor government.

“It will be interesting to see how it reacts now that it has a chance to act in its own right and extend this reform into other important areas such as children’s wards, emergency departments, high dependency units, rural facilities and community health services. Hopefully it will heed the strong message being sent by the State’s nurses and midwives and do the right thing, without the need for an extended campaign,” Mr Holmes said.

Contact details
Brett Holmes
Ph: 02 8595 1234