Muswellbrook nurses make heartfelt plea for ratios

Members of Muswellbrook District Hospital Branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) will hold a rally in support for improved ratios outside the post office in Bridge Street, Muswellbrook on Thursday afternoon (5 February).

As part of a statewide campaign for improved nurse-to-patient ratios throughout public hospitals, local nurses and midwives will seek support from the community as well as local decision makers.

Nurse staffing arrangements within large metropolitan and regional public hospitals in NSW are based on a ‘nursing hours per patient day’ formula.

Currently, patients presenting to Muswellbrook District Hospital are allocated five nursing hours per patient day – this translates into a nurse-to-patient ratio of one nurse to five patients on a day shift. Meanwhile, hospital wards in Newcastle and Sydney are allocated six nursing hours per patient day, which translates into a better ratio of one nurse to four patients on day shifts.

“In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, we’re asking locals with the power to encourage improved ratios to ‘have a heart’ and support the nurses claim for six nursing hours per patient day, or an equivalent ratio of one nurse to four patients to be introduced at Muswellbrook District Hospital,” said NSWNMA Member Organising Team Manager, Lisa Kremmer.

“The nurses here at Muswellbrook are angry they are forced to work under staffing arrangements that offer less safe patient care than in metropolitan hospitals. The extra patient load means nurses are regularly pressured into working through their breaks and finishing work late, in order to manage their workloads.

“The nurses are also concerned patients can expect worse health outcomes, as a result of the larger patient loads.”

International research indicates that after common surgery there is a seven per cent increase in the chance of mortality for every patient added to a nurse’s workload.

“This is unfair on Muswellbrook and the surrounding communities, who deserve equal hours of nursing care compared to those delivered in Sydney,” Ms Kremmer said.

“The nurses will be calling on all local decision makers to pledge their support for Muswellbrook to receive six nursing hours per patient day.”

The following people have agreed to meet the Muswellbrook branch members and discuss their views on health: Lee Watts (Independent), Martin Rush (Muswellbrook Mayor and Country Labor) and John Kaye (NSW Greens, Denman). Upper Hunter Mayor Michael Johnsen (Nationals) declined an invitation to attend.

Download this media release: Nurses deliver heartfelt plea for ratios in Muswellbrook

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