Nurses and midwives vote in record numbers for ratios and wages claim
Type: Media Releases Subject: Public Hospitals
4 March 2013
NSWNMA branches at the state's public hospitals and community health centres have voted in record numbers for a staff ratios and wages claim, which challenges the O'Farrell Government to build on the safer hospital staffing levels introduced in 2011 under an agreement between the NSWNMA and previous Labor government.Negotiations should now begin for guaranteed safe nursing levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, rural hospitals and community health services.
A record 215 NSWNMA branches, representing more than 30,000 public-sector nurses and midwives throughout NSW, have voted over the last two weeks, with 214 branches voting to endorse the claim and only one Justice Health branch voting against.
The NSWNMA will present the claim to the State Government, through the Health Ministry, later this week and seek to have it incorporated into the new Public Health System Nurses & Midwives (State) Award, which replaces the current award when it expires on June 30 this year.
A key feature of the claim is guaranteed, safer nursing levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services, and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services.
The claim also includes two 2.5 percent per year payrises, which will provide the majority of experienced, fulltime nurses and midwives with a payrise of more than $70 per week, or more than $3800 per year, by July 2014.
NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said the strong branch vote shows NSW nurses and midwives are very committed to providing safer patient care across the entire public hospital and community health system.
"Nurses and midwives working under the first round of compulsory, minimum ratios are clear they have provided a safer clinical and less stressful working environment. This record vote indicates just how committed they are to extending the benefits to all patients around the State.
"The strong vote also sends a clear message to the State Government about the nurses and midwives' determination to maintain and extend safer staffing levels. The O'Farrell Government is very willing to take credit every time a new batch of nurses or midwives is employed to fill the new positions created by the ratios, which were actually agreed between the NSWNMA and previous Labor government.
"It will be interesting to see how it reacts now that it has a chance to act in its own right and extend this reform into other important areas such as children's wards, emergency departments, high dependency units, rural facilities and community health services. Hopefully it will heed the message from the nurses and midwives and do the right thing, without the need for an extended campaign.
"Many people would be surprised and shocked to know that minimum staffing levels are currently not guaranteed in NSW hospitals for seriously ill infants and children. No right-thinking person could think that state of affairs should continue.
"And what about emergency departments and other high pressure areas such as intensive care units? They also don't have guaranteed minimum staffing levels at the moment. Things usually work okay, because hardworking and responsible clinicians ensure they do. But to continue leaving it to chance is not acceptable. Minimum safe staffing must be guaranteed and enforceable.
"It is also now time to guarantee safer staffing levels in the state's smaller country hospitals and multipurpose services. Rural people, who do not have immediate access to the major hospitals and all the bells and whistles that go with them, are at least entitled to the same guaranteed nursing and midwifery ratios as the big Sydney hospitals. In fact, because these hospitals don't have the same level of other resources as the larger hospitals, there is an even stronger case for them having guaranteed safer staffing resources to compensate.
"Finally, governments and health administrators are always going on about the importance of primary health care and doing more to keep people out of hospital and minimising unnecessary hospital admissions. Community health services, including community mental health services, are vital to achieving this goal. However, they can't do it if nurses and midwives are stretched to the limit. That is why it is now also time to introduce stricter, enforceable staffing arrangements in community health services, which include a reasonable balance between face-to-face patient or client time and the time required for things like travel, research and administration.
"As for the pay rise claim, it will maintain the position of nursing and midwifery in relation to similar professions, as we prioritise this important staffing reform at this time," Mr Holmes said.
Downloadable filesPHS vote - Illawarra Shoalhaven (94kb)
PHS vote - Hunter New England (103kb)
PHS vote - Far West (91kb)
PHS vote - Sydney suburban (111kb)
PHS vote - southern NSW (96kb)
PHS vote - western NSW (102kb)
PHS vote - northern NSW (54kb)
PHS vote - Murrumbidgee (100kb)
PHS vote - Mid north coast (94kb)
PHS vote - Central Coast (93kb)
Contact detailsBrett Holmes
Ph: 02 8595 1234
If you're a nurse or midwife in NSW, then this is your union.
Nurses and midwives must have a strong, active & relevant union to ensure ongoing improvements in their working lives.