The NSW health system is “huge” and always under pressure but the contribution of “our incredible staff” helped produce incredible outcomes, the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told annual conference.
“It’s a challenge but we do actually lead the country in most health indicators. I think that is not just because of our massive budget but because of people like you, frontline staff, who are doing their damnest on every single day to get positive outcomes,” he said.
“There are of course big challenges and one of them is the growing population we have in NSW particularly in and around Sydney but in some of our major rural towns as well. And with that growth comes the need for more and more staff.”
Mr Hazzard conceded that the Association played a major role in creating an awareness of staffing issues.
“It is interesting how these things can cut through the bureaucracy and get to a minister. One of the ways is to have your President or Brett (Holmes) or Judith (Kiejda) talking to me about the issues and making sure I’m aware of them.
“Brett and Judith had been conveying the Association’s views for more staff. Of course they were (also) conveying – we didn’t end up agreeing – the issue around ratios versus nursing hours per patient day. They were conveying it very well.”
Convincing Treasury is difficult
Mr Hazzard pointed out that convincing Treasury to provide funds beyond the current $27 billion health budget was difficult.
“The problem I have as your minister and the minister in NSW, when I sit down at the budget table with Treasury, they look at me with steely eyes and say: ‘You realise you are already consuming about a third of the entire state budget on health’.”
“The reality is that because of the hard work that was done by the Association … Treasury, despite the pressures on our budget, agreed there would be another $2.8 billion (for health) over the next four years.
“We’re doing that and we’ve listened to what your Association has said. We can’t agree on absolutely every point but we have listened.
“Also, over the next four years, I have got Treasury to agree – again on the back of your Association who were pushing the issue very hard of the regional hospitals, the smaller hospitals – the Peer Group C hospitals, the Peer Group B hospitals where, of course, it is five and 5.5 nursing hours per patient day in the medical and surgery wards.
“So, Treasury has rolled over on that as well and agreed they will fund over the next four years (an increase) from five and 5.5 to six nursing hours per patient day making it the equivalent of (Peer Group) A hospitals. So you’d agree that is a very big positive.”
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