Visit your MP to gain support for ratios

Michelle Callard, Cathy Taylor and Jeff Crebert from Campbelltown Hospital visit their local MP Bryan Doyle.
Michelle Callard, Cathy Taylor and Jeff Crebert from Campbelltown Hospital visit their local MP Bryan Doyle.

NSWNMA members have begun visiting their local MP to explain the need to extend and improve nurse-patient ratios in New South Wales. Here, members report to The Lamp about the response they have received from their local MP.

Bryan Doyle (Liberals, Campbelltown)  

A positive hearing but party line rules

Jeff Crebert, Michelle Callard and Cathy Taylor from Campbelltown Hospital visited their local MP Bryan Doyle.

“He says he is very supportive of nurses and will do whatever he can at a local level but insists he follows party lines,” said Jeff. “He was prepared to listen to our claim and local issues that supported our request for increased staffing.”

Jeff asked Mr Doyle if he would lobby Macquarie Street on behalf of nurses. Mr Doyle was non-committal.

“Bryan did commit to a visit to Campbelltown Hospital to talk with our nurses on the floor.

“Bryan comes from a legal and public servant background as a former police officer. He was keen to ‘get the facts’ before making any decisions.

“The delegation felt it had a positive hearing. Bryan said he would be happy to meet with nurses again.”

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Kevin Anderson (Nationals, Tamworth)

Supportive of nurses

Roz Norman from Tamworth Hospital met with her local MP, Kevin Anderson.

“Kevin is very supportive of nurses and will do whatever he can at a local level.

“He committed to bringing up the issue of ratios and the need to encourage RNs to rural and regional areas whenever he can. He also said he would attend any activity to which he is invited if he is available.’

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Garry Edwards (Liberals, Swansea)

Understands nursing issues

Terry Head, RN and Elaine Lane from Belmont Hospital met with Garry Edwards, the Liberal member for Swansea. Terry said he found the meeting very encouraging.

“Garry already has some knowledge of nursing issues as he has a wife and daughter who are RNs,” he said. “Garry supports the campaign to align ratios and was very interested in what is going on at Belmont Hospital. He was a patient there last year.

“He is also supportive, in theory, of a wage rise. He clearly understands the disparity in city versus regional hospitals when it comes to ratios and pledged to discuss this matter with colleagues when he’s down in Sydney for parliament. We also talked about skill mix and the importance of getting it right.

“I think if all MPs were married to RNs we would be a lot better off!”

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Andrew Stoner (Nationals, Oxley)

National leader reminded of past promises

Three members of the Kempsey District Hospital Branch Executive, Dianne Lohman, Linda Weir and Jennifer Clarke, met with New South Wales Nationals’ leader, and state Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner, to explain the goals of the 2013 NSW Award Campaign.

“Our members wanted us to explain to Mr Stoner how it may affect the nurses in our Kempsey electorate and thus the patients on the Macleay,” said Jennifer Clarke. “We explained that rural nurses felt left out during the last award campaign. They saw that the city hospitals and base hospitals have support staff whereas a lot of smaller country facilities do not.”

Jennifer said the delegation asked for Mr Stoner’s assistance to get more support for rural nurses through improved staffing and skill mix.

“He said it was our job (the NSWNMA) to convince NSW Health that we needed this increased staffing.”

Jennifer said they explained to the Deputy Premier about multiple assignments and how it mainly affects country nurses who do not wish to take positions that are in several areas. For example, working at the same time in the Emergency Department and Community Health.

“He actually appeared shocked and disgusted at this. He said that he was going to immediately contact Melinda Pavey – the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health – to talk to her about multiple assignments.”

Jennifer says the meeting was conducted in a cordial atmosphere.

“We began the meeting by congratulating him on his 10th anniversary as leader of the Nationals on March 31 2013. During the meeting he told us that he thought ‘we are all angels’.”

Jennifer says that towards the end of the meeting she told Mr Stoner that she had read his maiden speech to parliament.

“He groaned and said ‘you are going to quote me now?’ But he went on to say ‘what I said is just as true now as it was then’.

“This is what I quoted back to him: ‘Enough of problems. I wish to focus on solutions. The government must also take heed of the population growth and demographics of the Mid-North Coast and fund health services accordingly. The government holds in its hands the ability to overcome all these issues, to provide for the residents of Oxley a standard of life similar to that of those living in the city’.”

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Roza Sage (Liberals, Blue Mountains)

I have no influence

Garry Inglis, RN Mental Health, Peter Buckney, RN Rehabilitation Unit and Peter Lammiman, EN Mental Health Worker – all from Blue Mountains Hospital, Katoomba – visited their local MP, Roza Sage.

Garry said Ms Sage told the delegation she could do little to influence matters in relation to the nurses’ negotiations.

“We responded that as our locally elected member of parliament we expected her to convey the issues raised with the appropriate representatives in her government’s Health Ministry,” he said.

Garry said all the delegates conveyed their personal experiences of how stretched nurses were, giving examples of how unsafe working conditions had occurred and continue to be the case due to nursing shortages and skill mix issues.

“We emphasised that safe work loads and the Association’s campaign called upon the Health Ministry to acknowledge the need to build upon nursing ratios. We explained that safe, effective nursing care depended on this framework and that this framework of nursing care needed to be extended to include nurses in the community as well as other areas like paediatrics and ED.”

The delegates raised the issue of disparities in staffing levels and ratios in rural settings, which discriminates rural communities from their metropolitan counterparts.

“We pointed out that the Auditor-General of New South Wales had found an extra $680 million in the last budget. Ms Sage disputed this statement saying it was the last Labor government’s accounting that had led to this oversight, as well as implicating the federal Labor government as having its hand in this matter.”