Bowral's nurses and midwives wear red in fight for better conditions

FED UP: Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association Wingecarribee Health Service Branch stand together to push for better patient ratios. Photo: Madeline Crittenden.
FED UP: Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association Wingecarribee Health Service Branch stand together to push for better patient ratios. Photo: Madeline Crittenden.

Highlands nurses and midwives banded together today, as part of a statewide push for a more transparent nurse-to-patient ratio rostering system.

Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) Wingecarribee Health Service Branch came together and wore red arm bands during their shifts, to highlight pressures they’re under as a result of under-staffing, increased workloads and poor skill mix issues.

NSWNMA Wingecarribee branch president Dennis Swan said Bowral’s nurses and midwives were concerned with the care they were providing to patients. 

“We love our community and we want to give good safe care, but we feel we can’t do that - it’s not the fault of the hospital, it’s the fault of the Ministry of Health who are not providing us with the resources to fund the positions of more registered nurses and midwives,” he said. 

“We love coming to work and we are passionate about our jobs, and when we see that we can’t deliver that, it’s a great concern.”

The current award for nurses and midwives in NSW is coming to an end in June, and they are pushing for better ratios, not just to protect patients but to protect staff from burn-out. 

“Registered nurses are trying to get ratios where there are four patients to one registered nurse, which we are currently not getting,” Mr Swan said. 

 Mr Swan said the tool used for calculating the number of midwives needed, ‘Birthrate Plus’, was inadequate. 

The tool does not count babies in the nurse-patient calculation, which he said could produce unsafe situations where one midwife had care of several new mothers and their babies. 

“Sometimes babies are sick and they actually take up more time than the mothers. When you’ve got a sick mother and a sick baby together, your resources are strapped and you can’t get that good care,” Mr Swan said. 

“We want babies and their mothers to be funded properly so we can increase midwifery numbers.” 

NSWNMA Wingecarribee member and nurse Jenny Archer said branch members were fed up with the government’s inaction towards improving nurse-to-patient ratios. 

“We need more staff,” she said. 

“It is impacting on the care delivery we give and we need safety for our patients.” 

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