Beth Mohle, Secretary of the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union, sends her support to NSW nurses and midwives fighting for patient safety.
Dear NSWNMA members,
We have been closely watching your current industrial action over safe workloads in the public sector and send you our support and solidarity from Queensland.
The recent industrial action taken is very significant. It took great courage to take this action, but it is driven by passion and commitment and an over-riding concern for patient and staff safety.
As we know, nurses and midwives never take industrial action lightly. But so many are now tipped over the edge, exhausted from the unrelenting workload demands and fed up with being disrespected and taken for granted.
Your number one priority is the safety of both the people that you care for and your colleagues. Safe staffing through shift by shift ratios is what you are seeking, and your Queensland nursing and midwifery colleagues stand with you shoulder to shoulder in this quest. The need for ratios is obvious to us, and we are so frustrated that others cannot see what is so blindingly obvious.
Ratios not only save lives, they save money. And we have the evidence to prove this.
Five years ago, Queensland became the fourth jurisdiction in the world to legislate minimum nurse to patient ratios in public hospital prescribed medical and surgical units. Just last month, on International Nurses Day, an independent evaluation of this initiative by Professors Linda Aiken and Matthew McHugh from University of Pennsylvania and colleagues from Queensland University of Technology was published in the prestigious international medical journal The Lancet.
This evaluation found that the implementation of ratios in these sites had saved 145 lives and resulted in an estimated $70 million in savings through decreased adverse events and length of stay. Importantly, it is estimated that this dollar saving represented more than double the “return on investment” of the cost of employing the additional nursing staff required to meet the minimum ratios.
Yet, evidence alone will not achieve change – action is required. And the courageous action you are taking is acknowledged and admired.
Nurses and midwives are tired of being seen as a cost on a balance sheet and instead need to be seen for what they are – an essential investment required to achieve quality health outcomes and ensure patient safety. We must shift the thinking from cost to value. We are worth it.
Your action is inspirational and we stand in solidarity with you in your current struggle. We continue our campaign to extend ratios to all settings. We all will not rest until we see a care guarantee delivered via ratios in all sectors and settings.
Together, we can and must do this.
Keep up the great fight!
Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union
On behalf of QNMU members and Council