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Latest News - June 2013

June 4, 2013
BEGA Valley and Eurobodalla nurses pushed forward in their staff ratios campaign, marching through Bega to local member Andrew Constance's office on Friday.
Source: Bega District News
By: Ben Smyth

A group of nurses, midwives and medical students led by NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Pambula branch president Drew Barr gathered in Littleton Gardens before their march along Carp St, chanting “Put patient safety first” as they went.

They came from right across the Bega electorate, including from Batemans Bay and Moruya hospitals.

They joined colleagues state-wide as every Liberal MP’s office around NSW was paid a visit by their local nurses.

Mr Barr said Friday’s rally “is not a protest – it’s about informing the public they are not getting the levels of care they deserve”.

At the heart of the NSWNMA campaign is what it calls the “inequality” of patient care in rural and regional areas.

The association has asked the State Government to implement a 1:4 nurse to patient ratio at hospitals right across the state – a standard ratio found at metropolitan hospitals, but not regional ones.

“Your post code doesn’t dictate how much tax you pay, but it does dictate how much nursing care you receive,” Mr Barr said emphatically.

“This is about patient safety in every public hospital throughout the state.

“It is not about money or pay rises for nurses.

“It is about equality of nursing care between rural and metro hospitals.”

“The government has said no to any type of staff/patient ratios.

“This is not good enough,” he said.

“As elected representatives what are they doing to support their constituents?”

Promotional material handed out on Friday highlighted the State Government’s refusal to accommodate a state-wide standard staff ratio during negotiations into a new award.

A 2.25 per cent pay rise, plus 0.25 per cent superannuation contribution, is touted by the government, but NSWNMA Bega branch president Noeline Bell reiterated Mr Barr’s earlier statement this was not about the money.

In response to the rally, Mr Constance – who was in Sydney at the end of a Parliamentary sitting week – put the onus back on the union to explain their position on the current award.

“Our nurses and midwives do a brilliant job and I’m willing to meet with local nurses anytime if they make an appointment at my office – not necessarily with placards,” he told the BDN.

“I’ve already met with members of the Nurses and Midwives Association, and NSW Health and the union are in the midst of discussions - they are negotiating as we speak.

“However, I’d be interested to hear how the union that negotiated with the previous State Government to have ‘nurse hour to patient day’ ratios included in the award now says, at the end of that award, they are unsafe.

“We’ve honoured that [nurse hours per patient days], but the union leadership needs to explain why it is no longer considered safe.”

The NSWNMA has previously said the “groundbreaking agreement” reached in the previous award is something to now build upon.

“NSWNMA members won mandated nursing and midwifery staffing levels in 2011,” the association said in a statement to members.

“We acknowledge the government is recruiting to fill those positions, but more is needed.

 “Unless we improve and extend ratios these gains will be lost as budget cuts begin to bite.”

Local NSWNMA delegate Diane Lang said what is needed now is more widespread community support for the nurses’ campaign.

“This rally is a good start – what we need is to get the community educated about the situation and up on the bandwagon with us.”



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