Calls for shift-by-shift ratios to be introduced in New South Wales have been bolstered, as thousands of dedicated nurses begin and end their shifts around the clock on International Nurses’ Day.
New research released in The Lancet today indicates better patient outcomes are achieved in hospitals with improved nurse staffing, a position backed by the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA).
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, implored the NSW government to act on the findings which evaluate Queensland’s ratio legislation on nurse staffing and patient mortality, readmissions, and length of stay.
“This research is further proof of why we desperately need shift-by-shift ratios in NSW,” said Mr Holmes.
“We know that safe staffing, through minimum nurse-to-patient ratios not only improves patient outcomes but also saves money.
“Enough is enough. The NSW government must stop relying on nurses’ goodwill to stay at the bedside. They deserve to be valued with shift-by-shift ratios and fair pay.”
In a message to nurses, Prince of Wales Hospital Mental Health Branch Secretary, Skye Romer, said after being on the frontline during the pandemic, the urgent need for ratios was crystal clear.
“Our workloads are not sustainable. We’re tired. We’re burning out and we feel unsupported at work,” said Ms Romer.
“We’ve been seeking ratios in NSW public hospitals for over a decade and in residential aged care for even longer, but stubborn governments refuse to listen. Now, we don’t even feel like celebrating our own professional day.”
NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Judith Kiejda, reiterated the importance of ratios on International Nurses’ Day.
“Our members want to offer the best possible patient care with safe staffing. The NSW government has the power to do this.
“We call on the NSW government to value nurses and midwives by delivering shift-by-shift ratios, improved conditions and fair pay, not a pitiful 1.04% offer.”
Aged care nurses frustrated and disappointed
Frustrations have also reverberated across the aged care nursing workforce, following last night’s disappointing federal budget.
Despite promising a ‘once in generation’ reform package, the Morrison government failed to commit to mandated minimum staffing levels in the aged care sector.
NSWNMA Councillor and aged care nurse, Jocelyn Hofman, said she was furious.
“A $17.7 billion cash splash sounds impressive, but the devil is in detail and this budget falls well short of what residents, communities and aged care workers need to fix the sector,” said Ms Hofman.
“Mandated minimum staffing and skills mix are desperately needed now to provide the appropriate care to residents, with a registered nurse on-site 24/7, just as the royal commission recommended, not 16 hours with no requirement to be on site”
“We all know staffing is at the heart of best practice care, so why is it still too much to ask?”
The NSWNMA will continue campaigning for all recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission to be adopted in full.