The NSWNMA award claim for 2021 seeks to overhaul maternity unit staffing with minimum ratios for postnatal wards and updates and improvements to the Birthrate Plus® tool used to calculate required numbers of midwives.
Campbelltown Hospital midwife Rachel Lown, a member of the NSWNMA’s Macarthur branch, says Birthrate Plus® has some major flaws.
“It does not count babies as patients and fails to take into account the increasing acuity of mothers,” she says.
“We do about 4000 births a year and the acuity of women has increased, so we are taking on many more high-risk cases, which are not factored into your workload.
“For example, I’ve had three ladies immediately after they returned from recovery from caesarean section. Having three post-op women and their babies to look after is very full on.
Rachel says management undertook a major recruitment drive in 2019, which led to a temporary improvement in staffing and workloads.
“However, so many staff have decided to go elsewhere because Campbelltown is so hectic.
“Our main issue isn’t finding staff, it’s retaining staff.”
She says Birthrate Plus® does not adequately provide for “like for like” replacement of staff who are on long-term leave or have taken managerial positions or retired.
“Some of our senior people have been replaced by very junior staff.
Rachel says nurses and mid-wives need a fair pay increase after only getting 0.3 per cent last year, when they had to cope with increased workloads due to bushfires followed by the pandemic.
Regarding the union’s claim for free parking for hospital staff, Rachel believes it’s unfair to make hospital staff pay for parking.
“We should get it for free. It’s the least the government could do for those who serve their communities.”