Government must protect safe nurse

NSW Commission of Audit report into public sector management – initial NSWNA response.

ATTENTION: Political, health and workplace reporters Regional and rural NSW media outlets

The NSW State Government should reject the recommendation, in yesterday’s Commission of Audit report, that mandated minimum staffing levels be removed from public sector workplace awards, the NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) said today.

The NSWNA was responding to yesterday afternoon’s release of the Commission of Audit report into NSW public sector management.

NSWNA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said the report contains a number of recommendations of serious concern to employees such as nurses and midwives and the NSWNA will make a full response to the report in the next few days, once it has been fully evaluated.

“However, it is immediately clear that one recommendation needs to be knocked on the head straight away and that is the recommendation to remove ‘workforce management policies (such as staff ratios)’ from ‘industrial instruments’ such as the nurses and midwives award.

“The idea that workload management policies should not be included in workplace bargaining and workplace agreements is absurd and a clear attempt by employer groups and their supporters to take away people’s rights at work. If the O’Farrell Government agrees to this recommendation, then it will be a clear sign that it does not respect nurses and midwives rights at work.

“Under the O’Farrell Government NSW nurses and midwives have already lost their right to have wages and conditions disputes arbitrated by the independent umpire – the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. They will be further incensed if the new nurse-to-patient-ratio arrangements are removed from a legally enforceable format such as the award.

“NSW nurses and midwives ran a State-wide campaign in 2010 and 2011 to secure those ratios and they will campaign hard to keep them. The idea that safe patient care can be left to hospital managers alone is ridiculous. We tried that approach for many years and the only driver for most managers was budget needs, not patient needs. That is why we had the mandated minimum staffing levels included in the current award. This latest Commission of Audit report is a step backwards, in that regard, and should be rejected by the government,” Mr Holmes said.


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