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What about the staff?

Nurses and midwives suffer too.

As the organiser for the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association at Bowral Hospital I was glad to see the issue of staffing raised at the public meeting om March 13. There are two issues that concern me.

The first was very well raised by a young man in the Q&A. Staff have been notified that there would be contractual arrangements at the hospital. What these arrangements are is yet to be determined and the assurance given by a NSW Health Infrastructure representative implying that the public and private sector offer similar entitlements to staff offers little reassurance to our members currently employed in the public health system (PHS).

The second aspect that was not raised was the level of staffing at Bowral Hospital and many others across the state. We are facing another shortage in staffing in PHS.

Your recent article highlighted this and it is an issue that directly relates to the provision of safe patient care.

Under the "Staffing Arrangements" clause the employer has a responsibility to provide employees (ie/ nurses and midwives) reasonable workloads. Bowral, like many NSW Health facilities has a Reasonable Workload Committee (RWC) comprised of employer and employee representation that deal with "unreasonable" workloads. 

As I have previously explained to your editor the RWC is used to review workloads, enforce staffing levels and thereby ensure provision of safe patient care based on evidence (including but not limited to skill mix, patient acuity, unpaid overtime and meal breaks) provided by employee representatives.

The "Staffing Arrangements" mandates staffing levels in the form of ratios which currently exist primarily in the large metropolitan facilities.Our association is calling for the extension of ratios to regional hospitals like Bowral.

This  will be part of our 2017 Award negotiations. To achieve this would be a real win-win situation for patients, nurses and midwives alike and for regional hospital such as Bowral. 

It should be noted ratios do not exist in the private sector.

While we wait for this government to review our claim for safer patient care I'd like to acknowledge the outstanding work our members perform in our PHS 24/7, 365 days of the year. 

Mark Murphy


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