NSW Labor has promised more nurses for Maitland Hospital if it wins the next election, but has stopped short of a commitment on numbers.
The state opposition has committed to introducing a nurse to patient ratio model, which the nurses union has pushed for over the past eight years.
When asked what that ratio would be, shadow health minister Walt Secord said it would have to be costed and would be announced closer to the election in March.
“I can say there will be more nurses at both the new and existing Maitland Hospital,” he said.
Labor said the model would bring hundreds more nurses to regional hospitals and bring their staffing levels up to city ones.
NSW Labor leader Luke Foley said shift by shift nurse to patient ratios would deliver better quality of care to millions of people.
“It’s time for safe staffing,” he said. “We have a great public health system but we have to fight to keep it that way.”
In a statement, Labor said nurse to patient ratios reduced errors, improved the amount of time each nurse could spend in patient care, created better workplaces, reduced stress and led to higher retention of nurses and midwives.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association general secretary Brett Holmes said patient ratios would save lives.
“The difference between a nurse caring for four patients in a ward and five patients can be a matter of life or death,” he said.
“International research shows that better ratios result in fewer patient complications and fewer deaths.”