Our campaign will still deliver more nurses and midwives

Now that the Liberal National Coalition has been re-elected in NSW we will need to keep them honest about their commitment to fund more nurses and midwives in the public health system.

As The Lamp goes to press the Liberal National government has just been re-elected in the NSW state election.

The tireless efforts of nurses and midwives during the election campaign resulted in the Association achieving unprecedented commitments from both major parties in the lead up to Saturday’s state election.

 The Labor Party committed to a comprehensive ratios plan that matched our analysis of what was needed for the NSW public health system so much so that we for the first time, advocated a vote for Labor as the only way to achieve this strategic goal. The Liberal– National Coalition committed to an extra 890 nurses and midwives above already budgeted growth, leaving the distribution up to the Local Health Districts and the current Nursing Hours Per Patient Day model.

While they did not go as far as Labor in committing to shift-by-shift ratios in law, their published policy says it will deliver an additional 893 nurses and 48 midwives over four years on top of those required to meet normal growth.

We don’t believe this is nearly enough but I believe it has only occurred as a result of members campaigning for ratios.

Members have told us not to stop until we achieve ratios on all shifts, city and country, so we will continue to campaign for safe staffing and a new ratios system. Without shift-by-shift ratios in the Award, we will need to enforce the current nursing hours per patient day formula to ensure it functions in the spirit in which it was first promised – as a ratios equivalent. We will need to be vigilant and assertive to ensure those extra nurses and midwives do end up at the bedside.

While working with a Liberal– National government will be challenging for us, it will not be insurmountable. We welcome the opportunity to continue working with any government on behalf of our members and for the interests of the patients they care for.

I want to send out a big thank you to all those NSWNMA members who volunteered during our campaign. Your hard work, support and dedication did not go unnoticed by the major parties and, as a result, nurses and midwives are recognised as a force to be reckoned with.

Do not feel disheartened. Remember, Governments come and go, but nurses and midwives always remain the backbone of the public health system and we will continue to campaign for safe patient care no matter who is in office. We do so because we know it is in the best interests of our community and of our members. I thank each and every one of you who have supported the campaign. We are a stronger union for your efforts.

Let’s make ratios in aged care a federal election issue

In this issue of The Lamp we give you a report on the proceedings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care and we also look at other federal election issues that will impact on nurses and midwives.

The Royal Commission has heard a lot of uncomfortable realities about the state of the aged care sector. They have also been given this key insight from multiple sources: that the presence of registered nurses is critical in aged care while the declining role of RNs is the biggest issue for the sector.

This was a message that was strongly emphasised by academics and doctors as well as the ANMF. Annie Butler, the ANMF federal secretary, spent more than two hours giving evidence to the Commission. She described the “untenable” workloads faced by RNs, ENs and AiNs which is forcing them out of the sector.

We want aged care to be a prominent issue in the federal election and for all parties to commit to ratios in aged care.

I urge you to join our campaign to Make Ratios Law in Aged Care a federal election issue.

Please go to www.ratiosforagedcare.com.au and register your support.