NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has committed to enhancing nurse to patient ratios “where it is necessary” following Friday’s announcement by opposition leader Luke Foley.
But he has dismissed Mr Foley’s promise of shift-by-shift, nurse to patient ratios in regional hospitals if Labor wins the March state election.
“The fact is you couldn’t trust Mr Foley as far as you could throw him,” Mr Hazzard said.
“He did not even put one cent into Dubbo Hospital in his policy document at the last election.
“If Mr Foley were to be premier, Dubbo would see all the work that’s currently being done on the redevelopment of the Dubbo Hospital come to a screaming halt.
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“There’s no question he would not deliver one additional nurse and one additional dollar for infrastructure.”
The NSW government has invested more than $240 million in the Dubbo Hospital redevelopment, Mr Hazzard said, and almost 90 full-time nursing positions had “come on board”.
“There’ll be more as the redevelopment occurs,” he said.
The Daily Liberal asked whether ratios would be improved, or if nursing numbers would just keep up with growing patient demand.
“I have undertaken … to ensure that the current ratios are enhanced where it is necessary,” said Mr Hazzard, who spoke at the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association conference last week.
“Nurses in Dubbo have a ratio already of 5.5 hours per patient day in the general and surgical wards and it’s six hours per day in the paediatric wards and I have undertaken at the conference to continue to work with the association to find sensible ways to assist nurses broadly with even more staff and Dubbo very much has been, and will be, the recipient of more nurses coming down the line.
“It sounds all very good to have the word ratio, but it has also got to be a rational ratio using taxpayers’ money wisely.”