Ratios debated in NSW parliament
The Berejiklian Liberal government and the NSW Labor opposition have drastically different positions on nurse-to-patient ratios.
Several hundred nurses, midwives and supporters gathered outside Parliament House in Macquarie St on 18 September to push their claims for better ratios.
The rally preceded a debate on ratios during Question Time inside the parliament that played out before a packed gallery.
NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes told the rally that politicians had to heed the community’s desire for a decent public health system.
“For every politician in this place the delivery of care in their public hospitals should be a high priority. Your constituents will never criticise you if you have done all of the right things in trying to deliver better care in our public health system.
“But they will castigate you or destroy you if you fail them. They depend on our public health system and they have a right to expect a decent system.”
Brett acknowledged the support of many in the parliament for better nurse-to-patient ratios.
“(Labor leader) Luke Foley has stepped up to the mark and made very good commitments to us.
“I want to acknowledge that we also have support from the Greens and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and some cross benchers. That is important support as well.”
“Shocking” tales of understaffing
Speaking at the rally Labor leader Luke Foley restated his support for better ratios.
“A government led by me will introduce shift by shift nurse-to-patient ratios in the state’s hospitals.
“I visited 10 country hospitals this month and the tales I heard were frankly shocking. At Cooma Hospital one nurse told me she was caring for 11 patients all by herself.
“I stood at Wagga Hospital and heard how a nurse had worked 52 hours of overtime in the previous weeks on top of her ordinary hours.
“You’ve never been as overworked as much as you are now. I want every patient in this state to know that hospitals will be properly staffed.”
Following the rally Labor MPs signed pledges to support safe nurse-to-patient ratios.
During Question Time the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, made clear her rejection of ratios, ironically by quoting a former Labor health minister.
“I refer to Carmel Tebutt in 2010. She said, ‘I have made it very clear the government has concerns with the blunt nature of a nurse-to-patient ratios in that it does not provide flexibility’,” she said.
The Premier failed to acknowledge that Carmel Tebbutt moved away from this position and agreed to the introduction of the first wave of ratios before leaving office in 2011.
She also failed to acknowledge that the incoming Liberal government led by Barry O’Farrell agreed to honour the agreement to introduce one-to-four ratios into surgical and medical wards in our major hospitals as well as in a number of other wards and hospitals.
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