Listen to the science on ratios
An evaluation of Queensland’s ratios has swept away the last tenuous excuses for not implementing them in NSW.
The evaluation, conducted by researchers from the United States and from Queensland, was a requirement built into the law that established ratios in 2016.
It found that ratios pay for themselves. In fact, the savings in Queensland were twice the cost of additional nurse staffing. The study also found the system delivered a “flexible design”.
The research found that more staff were attracted to work at hospitals where nurse-to-patient ratios were implemented. There were significant improvements in patient mortality, length of stay and re-admissions. There were substantial cost savings.
To paraphrase our Prime Minister’s favourite saying: How good are ratios?
The study, published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, builds on decades of previous research.
But it goes further and demolishes the last remaining arguments used to block their implementation. It provides unequivocal evidence that government intervention will yield better staffing and those extra staff will lead to better patient outcomes.
We need to make the government act
The evidence is now well and truly in and our immediate challenge is to get the NSW government to listen to the science and act.
It needs to hear that the system is in crisis and that nurses are holding a precarious public health system together.
Worryingly, we are receiving reports that many nurses and midwives can’t take it anymore and are walking away from the public health system.
We simply cannot let this happen.
The Association wrote to the Premier asking her to work with us to implement shift-by-shift ratios and to meet with a group of nurses and midwives to hear the challenges they face at the frontline. To date, she hasn’t even paid the courtesy of replying.
This isn’t good enough. The government has benefitted greatly from the hard work and sacrifices made by nurses and midwives during the pandemic.
NSWNMA members throughout the state have been taking our message to their communities throughout May. We intend escalating those actions.
We are buoyed by the knowledge that the community is on our side and appreciate the sterling efforts of nurses during the pandemic.
We will continue to reach out to the community to join us in putting pressure on the government to meet their responsibilities and adequately resource the public health system with safe staffing.
Bold leadership required
Scott Morrison promised us a “once in a generation” reform of aged care in the federal budget but after raising such expectations the outcome was a damp squib.
At a time when bold leadership has been needed the prime minister has been found wanting.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care had done much to shine a harsh light on the sector and to provide a framework for fixing its myriad problems.
The royal commission concluded that inadequate staffing levels, skills mix and training were the principal causes of substandard care.
While there are positives in the budget but there is a sense of tinkering around the edges when it is so clear that fundamental change is required.
The time-honoured reflex of throwing taxpayers’ money from a helicopter at aged care providers has never worked and will never work when there is no accountability for delivering that money to the direct care of residents and consumers of home care.
Aged care needs to be reformed not only considering the royal commission’s findings but also in the broader context of lessons to be learned from the pandemic. The royal commission did not deliver on all of our claims, but the least Scott Morrison could do is implement those recommendations in full.
Expecting our public health system and our aged care sector to be able to provide safety and protection to our communities and our elderly when they are inadequately funded and where providers put profit before care will no longer wash.
Aged care has been left to wither over a long period of time and by governments of different stripes.
While we welcome the positives in the budget, the problems have not been sufficiently addressed and we will continue to campaign until they are.