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Nurses and midwives vow to challenge rules

Fed up with ongoing workload issues, staff shortages and a lack of support from management, hundreds of nurses and midwives have committed to challenge future management decisions they believe inhibit their ability to deliver high levels of safe patient care.

More than 400 delegates attending the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association’s (NSWNMA) 72nd Annual Conference agreed they were increasingly being overwhelmed by excessive workloads and an expectation by management to do more with less support.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said he was particularly concerned how far midwifery resources were being stretched across the state and called on the NSW Ministry of Health to immediately act in the interests of both patient and staff safety.

“It is simply unacceptable that nursing and midwifery staff are constantly being expected to front up for a shift knowing they’ll be run off their feet and then asked to do overtime,” said Mr Holmes.

“The current midwifery shortage is having an extremely detrimental impact on our midwives whose first and foremost priority is to deliver the best possible care to mothers bringing children into the world.

“Midwives not only care for women, they also care for babies with very complex care needs and this is not being recognised within the current staffing formula.

“Midwives, and nurses, need appropriate resources and levels of support to meet their professional obligations and it’s time local health district leaders and government decision makers addressed this issue.”

The NSWNMA delegates unanimously supported the need to strongly campaign for improved staffing and skills mix throughout the aged care sector.

Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Lee Thomas, reiterated that without adequate staffing in aged care, residents’ care needs would continue to suffer.

“For too long, those working in the aged care sector have known how seriously understaffed and under-skilled residential aged care is,” Ms Thomas said.

“We also know that residents need 4.3 hours of care per day, but typically receive only 2.84 hours. This means that on average the frail elderly living in aged care only get two-thirds of the care they need every day.

“We know this from more than 3,000 registered nurses, enrolled nurses and assistants in nursing who indicated that staffing is inadequate in their workplace more than 90 per cent of the time.

“We need an increase in all nursing and care staff in aged care to ensure the elderly get the care they need and we will be lobbying Federal and State governments constantly until that is achieved.”

The NSWNMA also vowed to continue robust campaigns for improved nurse-to-patient ratios throughout the entire health system and to continue opposing the privatisation of public hospitals and health services.