A nurse at Dubbo Hospital says staff are not able to provide the service or standard of care that our community deserves because staffing levels are at an all-time low.
Lauren Lye is the secretary of the Dubbo Base branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and recently spent three days at the union’s annual conference.
NSW opposition leader Luke Foley used the conference to announce guaranteed, shift-by-shift nurse to patient ratios in the state’s regional hospitals, if Labor wins the March election.
The commitment would see nurses in Dubbo Hospital’s general ward and surgical in-patient unit taking on four patients each during morning and evening shifts.
The ratio guarantees 5.5 hours per patient per day in the general and surgical wards, and six hours per day in the paediatric ward.
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Miss Lye said the nurses present, including some from Dubbo, were pretty overwhelmed by the announcement.
“It would have a huge impact on the patient care that our staff will be able to provide in Dubbo and it means more nurses in regional areas,” she said.
NSWNMA secretary Brett Holmes said the pledged ratios would resolve the “inequities” in the nursing hours model implemented by the previous Labor government.
We’ll be able to provide the care that we always dreamed, and that our patients deserve.Lauren Lye
Nurse-patient ratios are enforced at metropolitan hospitals, but not regional ones.
“What we’ve had is a system [which] … was meant to deliver nurse-patient ratios but because it had been balanced over a seven day period, it has been demonstrated to see under-staffing in far too many of our smaller hospitals,” he said.
“From [the nurses’] point of view, when they’re looking after a patient with, for example, pneumonia, that patient needs as much care in Dubbo as they need in Sydney.”
He said hundreds of nurses would be needed to improve regional ratios.
“We’ll certainly be continuing to call on the state government to build in this commitment from Labor so that patients in our NSW public health system, wherever they receive service, are delivered with the nursing care they need and deserve.”
The Western NSW Local Health District was contacted for comment, but did not respond before deadline.