“While there are still some areas that need work in future agreements, these new arrangements do provide for minimum, legally-enforceable staffing ratios in most hospital settings. The improvements are an acceptance by the State Government that the principle of mandated, minimum nurse-to-patient ratios is important if we are to improve the quality of the NSW hospital system.
“NSWNA members can see that and have voted to lock in the gains made during this first nurse-to-patient ratio’s campaign. We will continue to build on these gains in the years ahead, especially in the areas of skill mix, community health, other specialties and smaller hospitals.”
The proposed improvements will deliver approximately 1400 extra full-time-equivalent nurses in NSW hospitals by 2013 and more than 80 per cent of them will be registered nurses.
The extra 188 resuscitation nurses should see significant improvements in the quality and timeliness of care in the State’s larger emergency departments.
“Emergency department nurses themselves identified these extra nurses as their biggest priority and NSW Health is to be congratulated for listening to these experienced staff.
“Unfortunately NSW H ealth has not been as cooperative, at this stage, on community health services and that is something the NSWNA will be working very hard on over the next couple of years.
“The NSWNA will continue to remind the NSW and federal governments that community health services are an essential link in our hospital and healthcare system. They are, in fact, the future of healthcare for most Australians and we need to get the nursing and midwifery levels right if they are to do the important and expanding job expected of them.
“So, while there is still some work to be done, there is also no doubt that this new pay and staffing agreement represents a significant and positive reform of our public healthcare system.” Mr Holmes said.