A FED-UP Tamworth nurse has picketed a meeting of Nationals MPs to highlight the issue of nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals.
Matthew Cartan travelled with a group of 11 other nurses to Queanbeyan last week to confront the MPs outside the NSW Nationals Annual General Conference.
Mr Cartan spoke with Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and pleaded with him to “back your nurses”.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) is locked in a long-running battle with the state government over nurse to patient ratios, claiming regional hospitals were missing out on the one-to-four ratio of city hospitals.
“Country patients deserve the same level of care enjoyed by those in the city, its common sense really,” Mr Cartan said.
“We were able to explain the level of safe patient care that residents in our electorate are missing out on compared to the care provided in metropolitan hospitals, simply because we don’t have the same nurse-to-patient ratios.”
According to data supplied by the NSW Ministry of Health, as few as 13.34 full-time equivalent
additional nurses would be required to achieve one-nurse-to-four patient ratios at Tamworth Hospital.
The NSWNMA has collected more than 86,000 signatures to date on a petition campaigning for legally enforceable nurse-to-patient ratios to be implemented across all public health facilities, particularly in country areas and also in emergency departments.
“During my term, we’ve seen an increase of nurse numbers in Hunter New England Health,” Mr Anderson said.
“I will continue to push hard to get numbers up but it’s not just about recruitment, it’s retention too.
“Quite often we are seeing experienced nurses leave the profession and we need their experience in the wards.”
He said city versus country ratios were also distorted by the many Multipurpose Services in the bush.