Nurses News

Nurses say hospital staffing levels ‘decided by postcode’


Ross Peake

Nurses will run a pop-up stall on Wednesday to call for staffing levels at Queanbeyan Hospital to be lifted to the same level as metropolitan hospitals.

The Nurses and Midwives Association is using the state election as a springboard for its campaign to have mandated nurse-to-patient ratios, instead of “nursing hours per patient day”.

However the NSW government says nursing hours per patient day provides more flexibility in staffing.

Nurses say studies have found the more patients that nurses are caring for, the greater the risk of complications such as infections and even death.

Nurses association branch secretary Lynne Howell said no one could explain why staffing levels were determined by postcode.

“Our patients get sick just like everybody else, regardless of where they live,” she said.

“We want to be brought into line with metropolitan hospitals which have one nurse to four patients, so we would have fewer patients per nurse

“When we don’t have a lot of patients they scale it down but the trouble is, if you get an influx, they don’t scale it up again.”

The pop-up stall will be on Monaro Street near the Riverside Plaza between 10am and 2pm.

The state Opposition is promising that every nurse in the state’s emergency wards will be responsible for no more than three patients at a time.

Labor has promised to enshrine the nurse-to-patient ration in law under the plan, which would also legislate for a one-to-one ratio for hospital resuscitation beds.

Labor health spokesman Walt Secord says the plan would reduce errors, speed up patient recovery and potentially save lives.

Premier Mike Baird rubbished the plan when it was released last week, saying it was inflexible and would only add a small number of nurses to the system.

The Coalition says it has recruited an additional 4,600 nurses (3,400 FTE), including 62 FTE nurses to the Southern NSW local health district.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald