Profit motive cranks up pressure

The drive for profitability at Ramsay Health Care is intense, it puts pressure on staffing levels and, according to a comprehensive NSWNMA survey, it’s nurses and midwives who suffer.

We are familiar with how public sector budget pressures continually force nurses and midwives to do more with less, but NSWNMA research shows that similar pressures in the private sector are cranking up stress levels.

Phrases such as “non stop” “overwhelming” “no quiet days” and “missing breaks” were a constant refrain from Ramsay nurses and midwives asked about the pressures of their job.

The search for profit and efficiency was consistently cited as a driver of understaffing and workload stress.

“The public system is pressured by funding cuts. We are pressured in exactly the same way but by the profit motive,” said one respondent.

Many said that management expected them to just deal with these extra pressures.

“If you can’t handle the workload you’re considered to have a time management problem,” said one nurse.

Staffing is seen as the number one issue.

Respondents consistently said there were not enough staff members; that rosters didn’t allow for something going wrong; and that there was not enough back up.

“I am overstretched” “rushing from patient to patient” and the “whole shift is non-stop” were other frequent refrains.

Patient safety was a constant concern.

“They wonder why there are falls,” said one nurse.

“We are on the limit,” said another.

Poor roster practices were seen as adding extra stress on nurses and midwives.

Respondents said staff were moved around a lot, often at the whim of the doctors and there were not long enough breaks between shifts.

The lack of staff meant there was limited time with patients and less care, patients were being rushed out and many feared the rushed environment could lead to mistakes or falls.