Northern rivers nurses and midwives will hold a stop-work meeting today at 11.30am to discuss their campaign to improve staffing levels in rural and regional hospitals.
Health minister Jillian Skinner has avoided condemning the nurses’ actions, but would not commit to increasing numbers, focusing instead on the government’s achievements in increasing pay and overall numbers of nurses.
The statewide video link, organised by the Nurses and Midwives Association, will examine how to obtain increases in staff-to-patient ratios in the bush.
The union’s Lynda Binskin says nurses in rural and regional hospitals are particularly overworked.
‘For country, regional and small hospitals we would like to have the same staffing ratios as the big hospitals have. So a person having a hip replacement in, say, Port Macquarie, should be entitled to the same ratio as someone in Sydney having a hip replacement,’ she told ABC radio this morning.
But the numbers of nurses and midwives available to attend will be limited because of existing shortstaffing, she said, adding that as a minimum night-duty staffing levels will be maintained.
In a prepared statement Ms Skinner said she was ‘proud we have met and exceeded our promise to increase frontline nursing staff across NSW, with more than 4,000 extra nurses and midwives recruited since the election’.
She added, ‘the NSW government is also ensuring wages for nurses and midwives keep pace with other public sector employees. The government has supported a 2.5 per cent wage increase (including a compulsory superannuation increase) for nurses and midwives across the state, backdated to 1 July.’