Putting patient safety first at 69th annual conference

Nurse-to-patient ratios, hospital violence and the imposing threat of privatisation will be in the spotlight, as the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) holds its 69th annual conference in Sydney this week.

More than 450 nursing and midwifery delegates from across the state will converge on Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion to discuss key issues impacting on their professions and broader changes throughout the workplace.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said a range of topics will be canvassed during the three day conference including workforce management, violence and safety in public hospitals, wages and penalty rates, public hospital privatisation, graduate nursing, nursing and midwifery university fees, disability services, staffing in regional mental health and the future of Medicare.

Mr Holmes said the delegates will also discuss growing concerns around safe patient care within public, private and aged care settings.

“The general theme for this annual conference centres on nurses and midwives being a force for change in putting patient safety first,” Mr Holmes said.

“This goes to the very core of our professions, what it means to be a nurse or midwife and the responsibilities we bear in protecting the safety needs of our patients.

“When I speak to our members, one of their ongoing priorities is to achieve better care outcomes through the delivery of expanded nurse-to-patient ratios – they know the international research is available to support the need for improved ratios.

“In an ageing population, with chronic illnesses on the rise, we need our state and federal governments to focus on increasing funding to support our health system and to address the need for more nurses and midwives.”

Mr Holmes said the conference will debate a large number of resolutions, many of which will give nurses and midwives additional support to manage ever-increasing pressures on the job.

During the conference Professional Day today, delegates will hear from nine guest speakers covering everything from social and structural barriers to health, health funding and Medicare, to sexism and the evolution of nursing and midwifery.

Professional Day speakers will include Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research director Dr Anne-Marie Boxall, University of Sydney Law School researcher Senthorun Raj, HIV and Related Programs (HARP) Manager Collette McGrath, and NSW Health Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Susan Pearce.

On Thursday, nurses and midwives from across NSW will turn their keen attention to an address by the Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research, Jillian Skinner. Many delegates will relish the opportunity to ask direct questions of the Health Minister, when it’s likely nurse-to-patient ratios, wages and state health funding will be hot topics. The state’s Shadow Minister for Health, Dr Andrew McDonald, will also speak to the conference and take questions on Thursday.

On the final day of the conference Lee Thomas, Federal Secretary of the national body, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, will canvass the current healthcare emergency campaign: Lies, cuts and broken promises – focusing on the impact of proposed changes to the universality of Medicare, millions of dollars in cuts to federal health funding for NSW, and the impact changes to university fees and the retirement age will have on the nursing and midwifery professions.

Special presentations will also be made by two international nursing representatives on Friday. Vice President of National Nurses United and Californian nurse, Malinda Markowitz, will speak about her first-hand experiences during more than 30 years of nursing in the USA. She will be joined by young emergency nurse, Britta Houser, from Oakland. Ms Houser is a member-activist of the California Nurses Association and featured in the NSWNMA’s advertising campaign during the last federal election. Ms Houser will discuss the importance of maintaining a universal public health care system in Australia and warn against moving towards a US-style managed care system.

Mr Holmes said the conference is an important forum where delegates from branches across NSW are able to join together, exchange innovative ideas and generate discussion on both clinical and professional issues.

The delegates will also enjoy a daily chartered express train from Sydney Central to Rosehill for the duration of the conference. The 69th annual conference runs from Wednesday, July 30 to Friday, August 1 at the Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion.

** Media Alert **

Media are welcome to attend public addresses during the NSWNMA’s 69th annual conference in the Grand Pavilion at Rosehill Gardens (NB: notices of motion and Association general business are closed to media). Highlights include:



9.15am to 4.45pm – Professional Day, various speakers (details here)



11.15am to 12noon – NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner

12noon to 12.45pm – Shadow Health Minster, Dr Andrew McDonald



11.00am to 11.30am – Lee Thomas, Federal Secretary ANMF and Annie Butler, Assistant Federal Secretary ANMF

11.30am to 12.45pm – Malinda Markowitz, Vice President of National Nurses United and Britta Houser, California Nurses Association



Media Contact:

Brett Holmes, General Secretary, NSWNMA 0414 550 324

Judith Kiejda, Assistant General Secretary, NSWNMA 0414 674 119

Gia Hayne, Media Advisor, NSWNMA 0488 015 317





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