Monday, 24 June 2013
I have been strongly supporting the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives' Association campaign for better nurse-patient ratios in rural New South Wales. Nurses in Casino, Grafton and Lismore, where we have great hospitals, have been campaigning on this as part of a state-wide campaign, supported by nurses right across our region, including my electorate of Page. One nurse, Nurse Christine Bulmer from Casino, was quoted as saying in The Richmond River Express Examiner that it is about safety and equality—that is, safety of patients and equality for patients and for the workers.
As a long-time health advocate, I threw my support behind their campaign because I want to make sure that in rural areas we are not disadvantaged by a formula or by a ratio. We deserve to have the same ratio as has happened in the country. There was a winning of patient ratios in some areas in 2010. That was a great achievement, but more needs to be done so that rural and regional New South Wales is given that same ratio. As the Nurses and Midwives' Association rightly say, a person's postcode should not determine the quality or quantum of health care that they receive. People in our area should have the best level of care possible and our nurses should not be forced to overextend themselves because of poor nurse-patient ratios.
Nurses in our rural areas, such as Casino, Lismore, Grafton and other local communities, are forced to deal with ratios as poor as one in eight when they should be more like one in four, and one in three in emergency departments. This means that nurses—particularly in some specialty units, like community and community mental health nursing, paediatric, emergency departments and other critical care units—are stymied in trying to give optimal levels of health care for their patients. These low ratios can potentially be life threatening in an emergency.
So I stand with our local nurses in asking for the mandated nurse-patient ratios in both urban and rural New South Wales and in our health services so that our nurses are able to provide the best health care possible. They should not have to be concerning themselves with ratios; we want them to concern themselves with what they do best, which is patient care.