Nurses and midwives fight for safe patient care

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has vowed to continue its robust campaigns for improved nurse-to-patient ratios, opposing the privatisation of public health services and to ensure Australia retains a universal healthcare system.

The vital role of Medicare in the delivery of affordable healthcare was a recurring theme throughout the 69th annual conference of the NSWNMA, held at Rosehill Gardens over three days.

Two international nurses and union activists received a standing ovation after sharing their stories at the conference.

Vice President of National Nurses United, Malinda Markowitz, described the perils of working under a managed-care health system in the United States, where health insurers make decisions about patient treatments rather than the health professionals in consultation with patients.

“In some respects, Australia is facing a similar scenario, as your new conservative government attempts to push healthcare towards an American style privatisation model where profits, not patients, drive the day,” Ms Markowitz said.

“It’s so important that you, members of the NSWNMA, fight for safe staffing ratios in all hospitals and specialty units, because we know ratios do save lives.”

California Nurses Association member, Britta Houser, gave a first hand account of working in a privatised health system as an emergency department nurse in Oakland.

“It is clear to nurses in the US that despite healthcare costing the nation a great deal, patients are suffering from a lack of care,” Ms Houser said.

“We have a duty to protect our patients from unethical healthcare policy and the damaging effects of private hospitals making money off the suffering of our patients.”

Assistant General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Judith Kiejda, said the 430 nursing and midwifery delegates who attended the conference were determined to maintain their fight and would continue to apply pressure on the state and federal governments.

“Nurses and midwives are a force to be reckoned with globally and are committed to advocating on behalf of their patients to ensure they receive the best possible care,” Ms Kiejda said.

“Our members are passionate professionals who don’t give up easily – their duty to patient advocacy doesn’t end simply with patient interactions, it extends to challenging any policy that has the potential to harm patients.”

The NSWNMA delegates celebrated another successful annual conference and have committed to continue to campaign for patient safety and for the sustainability of a universal health system.

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