Serious health reform is not negotiable
We must ensure the State government delivers the funding necessary to fulfill its promises on ratios.
In its September budget the new Minns government made a solid start by allocating almost $1 billion for nursing and midwifery positions to help deliver ratios in public health.
The government made an election promise to the people of NSW to deliver safe staffing in emergency departments, intensive care units, postnatal maternity and multi-purpose services. It also promised to convert current nursing hours wards to shift by shift ratios.
The good news from the budget is that there is funding for the 1112 nurses that the previous government had failed to deliver on. These positions are now safe.
On top of that there is funding for 1200 more nursing and midwifery positions that is new.
However that level of funding in the budget will not be enough to roll out ratios in every hospital, ward and unit within the five designated specialties over the next four years.
So there is progress but also a new challenge before us.
Going forward we must ensure that there is sufficient future funding to fulfill the promise to implement ratios across the state.
I would encourage you to have a chat with your local MP about the importance of funding ratios.
Clarity needed around pay
The government’s intentions around pay remain unclear. In the budget they also announced $3.6 billion for wages to essential workers over the next four years. How that money is distributed and what will be allocated to nurses and midwives has not been announced.
Our message to the government is clear: Serious health reform is not negotiable and nurses and midwives deserve certainty around the resourcing of ratios and significant improvements to their take home pay.
This is a fight we will take right up to the next budget in June. We will have to campaign strongly for Labor to do more in their 2024/25 budget.
There were other positive signs in the budget for health. There was fee relief for student nurses and midwives of $4000 per annum if you commit to working in the public health system, but again, not enough positions are being funded and we question how this will be targeted.
There is also extra funding for women’s health and for more sexual assault examiners.
There is mixed budget news for infrastructure, with further funding for the new Rouse Hill hospital, but existing hospitals like Albury Wodonga being underfunded, leaving communities and staff uncertain about the direction for their services.
Where to from here
We will continue working with the Ministry of Health to facilitate the implementation of ratios through the Safe Staffing Taskforce.
The 2480 positions funded in the budget gives us something to start with. But we know it’s not enough.
We need to engage the government and convince them to provide more funding. We need to approach our local MPs and convince them that more needs to be done.
They need to understand that nurses and midwives will not stop advocating until ratios are implemented in every hospital, community health setting, and multi-purpose service in NSW.
Already some branches have started this process (see pp 28-29). There is a role for everyone in this campaign. I would encourage you to have a chat with your local MP about the importance of funding ratios properly.
Many MPs are convinced that ratios are essential in every specialty and in every hospital if we are to attract and keep the nurses and midwives that the Public Health System so desperately needs.
We also need them to understand that the funding of healthcare should not be seen as inherently bad or burdensome. Properly funding health services provides a golden opportunity for the government to invest in communities, people and relationships.
“Properly funding health services provides a golden opportunity for the government to invest in communities, people and relationships.”