Defend Ratios: NSW Labor opposes cuts to ratios


NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson and Shadow Health Minister Dr Andrew McDonald have met with nurses concerned that changes to their award could see minimum staffing levels scrapped and hospital wards left understaffed by nurses and midwives.

The O’Farrell Government needs to rule out cutting nurse to patient staffing ratios in NSW hospitals following the Schott Report’s recommendation to sacrifice minimum hospital staffing standards to cut costs in the health system.

"Nurses are the backbone of our health system and Minister Skinner needs to come out today and guarantee that under an O'Farrell Government nurse to patient ratios will not be cut."

The Schott Report recommended: 22. The Department of Premier and Cabinet should amend the NSW Public Sector Wages Policy 2011 to include a provision that workforce management policies (such as staff ratios) should not be included in industrial instruments.

“Health Minister Jillian Skinner needs to give an ironclad guarantee today that nurse to patient ratios will not be slashed to cut costs under her government,” Mr Robertson said.

“Currently, nurse to patient ratios of 1:4 operate during morning and afternoon shifts, with a ratio of 1:7 on overnight shifts. This must be guaranteed into the future.

“Everyone deserves to have the peace of mind that when a loved one falls ill, they will receive the medical treatment they need and nurse to patient ratios ensure we have enough staff and resources to deliver this.”

Shadow Health Minister, Dr Andrew McDonald said: “Nurse to patient ratios ensure sustainable workloads and patient safety. The Schott Report’s recommendation to scrap all workforce management policies, such as nurse to patient ratios, would have a devastating impact on our hospital system. Nurses fought for these ratios and I was happy to support their campaign because the minimum staffing levels make a real difference to patient care in our hospitals. It is so much easier to meet the standards when you have the staff, but instead the Minister is putting these ratios at risk.

Nurses are the backbone of our health system and Minister Skinner needs to come out today and guarantee that under an O’Farrell Government nurse to patient ratios will not be cut. People didn’t vote for the O’Farrell Government so our health system could go backwards, but that is exactly what is happening.”

What do you think of recommendation 22? Have your say in the comments section below!

Image credit: NSWNA


  1. I think we need to start working a little lower down the food chain to protect our ratios. I have heard of NUMs signing off to say that it is OK to have 2 nurses to 21 patients in an acute surgical ward on night shift. These same NUMs are then blasting staff (despite the “culture of no blame” that I am assured exists in public hospitals) when unforseeable adverse events occur. I don’t know how most of these NUMs keep their jobs.


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