NSW Nurses and Midwives Association calls on state government to improve nurse to patient ratios

TAKING A STAND: The NSWNMA Gunnedah branch feels that Gunnedah patients should be treated the same as other NSW hospitals.
TAKING A STAND: The NSWNMA Gunnedah branch feels that Gunnedah patients should be treated the same as other NSW hospitals.

Gunnedah nurses are rallying to boost nurse to patient ratios at home and across the state.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA)  is calling on the government to deliver an expansion of the state’s current nurse to patient ratios system.

NSWNMA Gunnedah spokesperson Heather Franke said the group are campaigning to bring Gunnedah District Hospital in-line with safe nursing hours as it has the potential to save lives.

“The Gunnedah branch of the NSWNMA feel rural hospitals, such as Gunnedah, deserve to be able to offer its community the same as all other hospitals in NSW,” Mrs Franke said.

“Our community should be offered the same as our city hospitals, as a patient presenting with illnesses to a rural hospital still require the same treatment as patients who present to city hospitals.

“The treatment is the same and we should have an equal amount of nursing hours to provide this care.”

Mrs Franke said it is critical for ratios to be introduced into specialty areas such as emergency.

“We see a high number of presentations [in emergency] due to the increased fly-in, fly-out mine workers who are unable to obtain a doctor’s appointment. A decrease in doctor numbers in our community has also impacted on the number of presentations to the ED, which is normally staffed by one registered nurse and an on-call doctor,” she said.

Mrs Franke said the group are holding a peaceful protest on Thursday, May 4, walking from the Cenotaph to Wolseley Park from 10.30am to highlight the ratios claim.

General secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes said NSW was lagging behind Victoria and Queensland on the issue.

“Victoria and Queensland have committed to minimum nurse to patient ratios in their public health system awards and preserved these in legislation, ensuring public patients receive the best care possible,” Mr Holmes said.

He said despite strike action in 2011 to secure ratios, “there are still many public hospitals throughout NSW that don’t have them”.