Ratios: It’s a Life Saver

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) campaign for safe staffing has stepped up with a new television commercial and a website relaunch, asking community members to help convince the NSW government to introduce nurse-to-patient ratios.

Titled ‘Ratios – It’s a Life Saver’, the powerful TV commercial depicts an exhausted nurse preparing a hospital bed following the death of a patient in an overcrowded ward.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said the advertising campaign was confronting but real, and a necessary reminder of how broken the NSW public health system had become.

“Sadly, the scenario shown is not an exaggeration. When nurses and midwives have too many patients they simply cannot supervise closely enough, and this is leading to poor outcomes for patients,” said Ms Candish.

“We are fighting to save our public hospital system and to save our members from unsafe and demoralising working conditions. Nurses and midwives deserve better from the NSW government after more than two years of a crushing pandemic. The latest Bureau of Health Information report confirms ongoing pressure on the system.

“The NSW government and the Ministry of Health must acknowledge our public health services are at risk, and the public needs to be aware of what is at stake. It’s time they agreed to a better outcome for patients and commit to safe staffing.

“We all turn to nurses and midwives when we are most in need of care. They are skilled professionals who deserve to be treated with respect and the vital roles they play in our hospitals recognised. The NSW government must start caring for nurses and midwives before it’s too late.

“Nursing and midwifery staff are continuing to leave because of unmanageable workloads, unsafe conditions, and low wages. The NSW government has the power to address these issues, but they have staunchly refused. It’s time for the NSW government to seriously reconsider how they treat their employees.” 

NSW public hospitals and health services do not have mandated staffing ratios. Queensland, Victoria and the ACT do. The NSWNMA has been campaigning for nurse-to-patient ratios on every shift for over a decade.

NSW needs ratios on every shift, in every ward, across every hospital to deliver safe patient care, the current staffing system does not provide this.

Research published in The Lancet showed increasing in a nurses’ workload by one patient increased the likelihood of an inpatient dying within 30 days of admission by 7%. Recent Queensland research found the state avoided 145 deaths in less than four years since the implementation of ratios.

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