Open Letter to the Premier and Health Minister

To Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard:

We, the undersigned, urge you to address the crisis impacting staff and patients in NSW public hospitals. We are nurses, midwives, patients and concerned community members who want the best for our public health system.

The current COVID-19 outbreak in NSW is proving just how fragile our health system is. Nurses and midwives have the enormous task of keeping our hospitals running, taking on immense workloads to try and deliver the care their patients need. But it is not safe.

Under the current staffing system, nurses and midwives are being pushed to the brink, frequently experiencing:

  • widespread understaffing on wards
  • unfilled sick leave
  • excessive amounts of overtime to accommodate unfilled shifts
  • unsustainable levels of patients needing complex care without additional staffing
  • burn out, leading to increasing numbers leaving the industry
  • work health and safety issues/unsafe and often violent work environments

Nurses and midwives are at breaking point and can no longer be expected to put up with these extreme workloads and dangerous staffing levels. It is untenable. These conditions are putting patients at risk of compromised care and it’s not safe for staff.

You have the power to end this crisis by introducing a transparent and enforceable shift-by-shift ratios system in NSW, with an adequate skill mix and minimum staffing levels in every ward, unit or service.

We urge you to value the extraordinary contribution of nurses and midwives on the frontline and to better support them at work. The only guaranteed way to immediately address the crisis and improve patient outcomes is by implementing shift-by-shift ratios.

Nurses and midwives deserve better. Patients deserve better. Every community in NSW deserves a better public health system. We can’t risk it anymore.