Maitland nurses and midwives have voted to up the ante on a statewide campaign in their fight for better patient safety.
More than 5000 NSW Nurses and Midwives Association members – including a bus load from Maitland – gathered in Sydney yesterday and voted to continue their campaign on September 17.
“On this day there will be [national] action around public health service and patient safety ratios but the details of that action have not yet been determined,” the association’s director of campaign operations Lisa Kremmer said.
“And more than 5000 nurses and midwives across NSW have unanimously voted to continue this campaign because patient safety is paramount.
“Yesterday’s meeting was very successful and I think members are inspired to do whatever we need to do to get the O’Farrell government to put patient safety [first].”
The association has called for better nurse-to-patient ratios, particularly in critical care areas and emergency departments.
Those ratios are one nurse for every four patients in general medical, surgical and mental health wards, and one nurse for every three patients in general children’s wards and emergency departments.
They are also calling for improvements in smaller rural and regional hospitals and a guaranteed one nurse for every patient policy in intensive care and neonatal intensive care wards.
Greens MP John Kaye said public hospitals and health facilities had been thrown into crisis yesterday because the O’Farrell government refused to respond to the evidence that providing sufficient numbers of nurses was essential to protecting patient safety.
“Nurses and midwives did not choose to take industrial action,” Dr Kaye said.
“They had it forced on them by a government that is in denial about the consequences for patients whose care is compromised because there are not enough clinical staff to deal with their needs.”
Health minister Jillian Skinner thanked the thousands of nurses and midwives who worked through the strike action to ensure patient care was not compromised.
Mrs Skinner said the relatively low numbers of nurses and midwives who took strike action meant patient care was maintained at high standards in the state’s hospitals.
“I am advised about 1770 nurses and midwives who were rostered on for duty today participated in the strike action,” Mrs Skinner said.
“The vast majority of our record of over 47,500 nurses and midwives who were rostered on to work today did work – and I thank them for doing so.
“This strike action has been disappointing but our hospitals coped incredibly well because of our record nursing workforce.”
Mrs Skinner said the NSW Government had recruited over 4000 extra nurses and midwives since the 2011 election.
“NSW has never had so many nurses and midwives,” she said.