NURSES across the northern region will begin voting next Monday on a proposed pay rise and staff ratios claim.
The claim includes applying the same minimum ratios in all hospitals, including smaller rural hospitals and multi-purpose services, as in principal referral hospitals such as Westmead and the Royal North Shore.
This would equate to six nursing hours per patient per day.
Other proposals include compulsory minimum ratios for children’s wards, the introduction of ratios to emergency departments, medical assessment units, emergency medical units and adult critical care units, mandated face-to-face patient time in community nursing, and improved ratios in mental health facilities.
Another feature of the claim is a 2.5 per cent annual pay rise.
The current award, finalised two years ago, included compulsory, minimum nursing ratios (or nursing hours per patient per day) for most wards in acute hospitals, and resulted in medical/surgical patients in principal referral hospitals receiving six hours of nursing per day, major hospital patients receiving 5.5 nursing hours, and district hospital patients receiving five nursing hours.
“Nurses and midwives working under the first round of compulsory, minimum ratios are clear they have provided a safer clinical and less stressed working environment,” NSW Nurses Association general secretary Brett Holmes said.
“The challenge for the O’Farrell government is to build on this and ensure every public patient in NSW has access to the same level of safer care.”
Mr Holmes said minimum staffing levels were not guaranteed for seriously ill children, emergency departments and intensive care units.
When in Tamworth earlier this week Health Minister Jillian Skinner said she was confident a happy settlement would be reached on the claim.
She said 3000 new nurses had been employed in NSW since the government came into power in early 2011.