Nurses rally for better nurse to patient ratios

Gunnedah nurses are campaigning to boost nurse-to-patient ratios amid a concern for patient safety under current staffing levels.

NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) Gunnedah members pounded the pavement this morning to highlight the ratios claim to the community.

NSWNMA Gunnedah branch secretary Heather Franke said patient safety is at the heart of the issue, and is calling on the community to lobby with them. 

“In 2011, the Nurses and Midwives’ Association managed to secure ratios within our state award for medical, surgical and other speciality wards within metropolitan hospitals and some regional sites – but we missed out completely,” Mrs Franke said.

“For the past six years the NSWNMA has been lobbying the Ministry of Health to classify Gunnedah District Hospital in order to qualify for minimum, mandated nurse to patient ratios, with no luck.

“We've been talking to the community about this issue and now we’re expanding our efforts to make sure the entire Gunnedah population is aware of the situation. It’s not good enough that our community misses out – patients in Gunnedah deserve to receive the same level of care that is provided to patients in the big city hospitals. It’s not an unreasonable request in our view, we’re simply asking for a minimum which guarantees patient safety.”

NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes said their constant pleas to the Ministry had been knocked back.

“As recently as last week, the Ministry confirmed that the status quo would remain at Gunnedah and circumstances had not changed enough at the hospital to warrant introducing nurse to patient ratios,” Mr Holmes said.

Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson met with Gunnedah hospital nursing staff in February to discuss their concerns.

“As a result of that meeting I asked the staff to obtain specific information relating to staff numbers, rostering and recorded overtime,” Mr Anderson said.

“Yesterday I was advised that they have not been able to obtain that information so I will be making further enquiries on their behalf so that there is a clear indication of the current workload and staff levels.

“Once I have that information on hand I will be looking to meet with representatives from Hunter New England Health to discuss the findings.”

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