NSW government must respond to its neglect of the bush
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has urged the NSW government to not delay adopting the recommendations of a public inquiry into rural, regional and remote health services, and called for the allocation of extra nurses and midwives to be fast-tracked.
Responding to today’s release of the upper house Health committee’s final report, NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the findings were a shocking indictment of the NSW government’s failure to address systemic issues that had continued largely unabated.
“On behalf of our members, we certainly want the NSW government to act and repair the holes in health service delivery across all rural and regional areas. A fundamental part of that is addressing the clinical workforce issues,” said Mr Holmes.
“As this inquiry uncovered, there’s a myriad of short staffing concerns in regional health settings, which has put unrelenting pressure on nurses and midwives during every shift. The circumstances they face while trying to deliver acute care is unreasonable and, on many occasions, unsafe.
“While we welcome the committee’s recommendation for a workforce review, the urgent implementation of safe staffing ratios is paramount and would help to address these issues.
“For years we’ve called for minimum nurse-to-patient ratios across all public hospitals to improve safety and promote better patient outcomes. Yet the NSW government has ignored the evidence that safe staffing ratios save lives and save money.”
Assistant General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said access to adequate health care was a basic right and shouldn’t be compromised by governments.
“Regional communities deserve access to the best health care possible regardless of where people choose to live. The NSW government must acknowledge it has a duty to deliver safe care for rural and regional patients,” said Ms Candish.
“Nursing and midwifery understaffing in rural and regional health must change. The poor skills mix issues must change. The lack of enough clinical nurse and midwifery educators to provide supervision and mentoring must change.
“The goodwill of nurses and midwives to continue working understaffed and keep the doors of their rural and regional hospitals open must stop being exploited. It’s not safe for our members, it’s not safe for our communities.
“We need meaningful change to attract and retain nurses and midwives in our regional health settings and we need the NSW government to stop neglecting the bush.”
Right now, rural hospitals are decreasing their emergency services due to an absence of qualified and experienced nurses.
The NSW government could act today by introducing statewide nurse-to-patient ratios on every shift, including a minimum of at least three nurses in every rural and remote facility, two of whom must be registered nurses with emergency care qualifications. If the NSW government fails to do this, services will remain at risk.