Ratios Set To Roll

The surgical oncology/gynaecology ward at RPA is first in line for new ratios.
The surgical oncology/gynaecology ward at RPA is first in line for new ratios. Left to right: Adi Tabaiwalu, Aaron Chadwick, Loretta Scarselletta, Lisa Bullock, Estela Swynny and Aaron Jones.

Nursing hours/ratios are set to commence in the first tranche of public health system wards.The new nursing hours/ratios system is being implemented progressively in public hospital wards, and the first tranche of wards selected by the NSWNA and NSW Health is now converting to the nursing hours/ratios system.

Around 45 public health system wards will convert to the new system in July, and funding has been made available by NSW Health to increase staffing in these wards. It will mean about 180 FTE extra nursing positions.

The new nursing hours/ratios system will be progressively implemented in eligible public hospital wards. All eligible wards must have converted to the new nursing hours/ratios system by July 2013. The selection of wards in each tranche is being agreed by the NSWNA and NSW Health.

The Lamp spoke with two nurses working in public health system wards about to convert to the new system.

Nursing hours will make a huge difference

‘I’m very excited that nurse ratios will be rolling out in my ward this month,’ said Sue. ‘Ratios will mean an extra 2.8 FTE nursing roles. It will make a huge difference.

‘At the beginning there will be details to work out.

‘Being an acute medical ward, we have heavy workloads. The extra hands will make a difference.’

Sue says the nursing hours/ratios system will also help to better ensure safe patient care.

‘Nurses will have more time for patient care,’ said Sue. ‘Having time to do your nursing role properly will also boost staff morale and improve job satisfaction, especially for the younger nurses. It can be very frustrating when you can’t give patients the time you think they need.’

Aaron Jones, NUM in the Surgical Oncology and Gynaecology ward at RPA Hospital, is excited about being one of the first wards to have nurse-to-patient ratios. ‘It will make a big difference on my ward,’ said Aaron.

‘Nurse ratios will enhance the nursing care provided to patients. It will also provide an opportunity for me to do succession planning. I’ll be able to mentor staff and I’ll be free to focus on the NUM role and work more closely supervising staff,’ he said.

Aaron believes that ratios will affect the model of care applied on his ward. ‘We are planning to create a new admissions and discharge nursing role to help with the safe admission and discharge of patients to and from the ward.

‘This will mean smoother patient flow. It will also free me up to focus on a senior clinical role. At the moment I do the admission and discharge of patients, which takes me away from other clinical and supervisory duties.

‘We’ll also be able to improve skill mix on the ward. We’ll be able to have more new grad nurses and AiNs because nurse ratios mean we can better support these staff, and extra hands on board mean RNs will be able to focus on their RN role.’

The nursing hours/ratios system will mean an additional seven FTE positions on Aaron’s ward, which Aaron says will be spread across the nursing classifications.

‘As a NUM, I’ll have peace of mind knowing I can roster on enough skilled nurses each shift and ensure we have an appropriate skill mix.

‘Nurse ratios will certainly mean a safer environment for both patients and nurses.

‘For nurses on the wards, ratios will mean more balanced workloads and a more enjoyable working environment.

‘Nurses will be able to do the little things that are important to being a nurse. Nurse ratios will mean greater job satisfaction and nurses will stay in the system,’ he said.

The surgical oncology/gynaecology ward at RPA Hospital is in the first tranche of public health system wards to convert to the new nursing hours/ratios system.