Better ratios also needed for nurse to patient care in Austraila

PROTEST: Nurses and midwives rally opposite Maitland Hospital on Thursday.(Maitland Mercury) Maitland Hospital nursing staff will continue to struggle under mounting pressure unless an agreement for safer hospital staffing levels is reached as a matter of urgency, union members have warned.

Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association cranked up their fight on Thursday for better patient care across the state in a public rally held opposite Maitland Hospital.

The members have called for a guaranteed minimum of one nurse per patient treatment spaces/beds, plus an in-charge nurse and a triage nurse on each shift as part of the 1:3 in every emergency department campaign.

“Maitland Hospital management, to its credit, is very focused on our hospital, but there are issues. Our nurses are constantly under the pump and they need a good outcome from this campaign,” the association’s Hunter organiser Matt Byrne said.

“And while the government has given $20 million for a new plot of land for a new hospital, this is still at least 10 years down the track and we can’t just let Maitland Hospital die on a limb in the meantime and that is our concern.”

Association general secretary Brett Holmes said it was no longer acceptable to leave the staffing of emergency departments, high dependency units and community health centres to chance.

“The challenge for the O’Farrell government is to build on this first round of staffing reform and ensure every public patient in NSW has access to the same level of safer care,” Mr Holmes said.

Figures from the Bureau of Health Information show Maitland Hospital has the Hunter’s longest waiting times in emergency in all triage categories, reporting a 32 per cent increase in emergency department patients from 2011 to 2012.

However, the Hunter New England Local Health District believes the hospital’s emergency department is appropriately staffed.

“This time around we want to concentrate on the critical care areas and we’re trying to get the rural ratios in line with those of the metro hospitals,” Mr Byrne said.