Safe Patient Care To Be A Managerial Whim Again

First they attacked your wages now it is award conditions including ratios.

THE NSW STATE GOVERNMENT has flagged a second wave of attacks against the working conditions of public sector workers including nurses.

Last year the O’Farrell government passed laws that capped public health sector nurses’ wage increases at 2.5% and rendered the NSW Industrial Relations  Commission powerless as an independent umpire in  wage negotiations.

Now, Barry O’Farrell has accepted the broad thrust of a new report commissioned by his government that advocates the removal of conditions such as ratios from  your award.

When the Association prosecuted its campaign for nurse-to-patient ratios, a key element was that ratios were mandated and embedded in the award to protect  them from political interference and managerial whim.

The government has flagged its intentions to attack these protections for nurses and other emergency services workers.

Safe staffing will be a managerial whim  

The government’s report recommends that award conditions covering staffing such as

  • nurse-to-patient ratios
  • teacher-to-pupil ratios
  • police authorised strength
  • fire fighter crew per appliance

should not be mandated and should be determined by management prerogative.

With these changes it will be a manager’s call how a ward will be staffed. There will be no compulsion to make safe patient care the priority when allocating resources.

This is a return to where nurses found themselves before ratios were won in our campaign.

The report released this week is an interim one. The final report will be released in April. But the government’s intentions are clear and the outlines of a plan to get rid  of ratios are obvious.

This is ultimately a return to the bad old days when decisions about health that impacted on safe patient care were determined by Treasury boffins with no knowledge  of the realities on the wards of our public hospitals.

Nurses fought long and hard to win ratios. They did so because they understood what the long standing problems of the health system were and how to fix them.

We urge you to take a stand. The first thing you can do is let your local Member of Parliament know that this is unacceptable and seek their commitment to oppose the  recommendation of the Commission of Audit Report.

Interim Report Excerpt

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