Labor pledges to boost nurse-to-patient ratios at Wyong Hospital

OUTCOMES: Increasing the nurse-to-patient ratios at Wyong Hospital would improve the care and safety of patients, Labor said. Picture: David Stewart
OUTCOMES: Increasing the nurse-to-patient ratios at Wyong Hospital would improve the care and safety of patients, Labor said. Picture: David Stewart

THE state opposition has vowed to increase nurse-to-patient ratios at Wyong Hospital, bringing it into line with the ratios at Gosford hospital.

Labor’s shadow minister for the Central Coast, David Harris, welcomed the recent policy announcement from Labor leader Luke Foley. Mr Harris said the move would improve health outcomes and patient care across the Central Coast Local Health District.

“Our nurses do astonishing work given their workload. But we tend to forget that while they achieve remarkable results they are only human,” Mr Harris said.

“This policy will give them the resources they need to continue their work – caring for the sick and most vulnerable in our community.”

Wyong Hospital is currently undergoing a $200-million expansion carried out by the Liberal state government.

Mr Harris said Labor’s policy would bring hundreds more nurses to local hospitals and bring their staffing levels up in line with larger city ones.

A Labor government would employ hundreds more nurses in “B” and “C” group hospitals across NSW, he said. This would improve patient care in about 60 separate hospitals – most of them outside Sydney.

In May, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) launched a public awareness campaign, stressing the urgent need for improved nurse-to-patient ratios in NSW public hospitals.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said the state government could “no longer continue to ignore the link” between nurse staffing levels and improved patient outcomes.

“We know ratios save lives,” Mr Holmes said.

“Research has shown that every additional patient per nurse can increase the likelihood of an inpatient dying by seven per cent. The state government must put this system in place to safeguard the future of our public health system.”

Mr Foley made Labor’s policy announcement at the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association annual conference.

Mr Foley said nurses and midwives did extraordinary work but were overworked and under resourced by the state government.

“Nurses are the bedrock of our hospitals,” Mr Foley said.

“They make an extraordinary contribution but they need a system where their work can be delivered more efficiently – and without adding additional stress to their crucial jobs.

‘It’s shameful that the government allows hospitals to be understaffed while putting billions of dollars into Sydney stadiums.”

During the 2015 state election campaign, NSW Labor announced its policy of new nurse-to-patient ratios in emergency departments and paediatric wards. The new announcement built on that commitment, Mr Foley said.

NSW Labor said Victoria and Queensland had already enshrined nurse-to-patient ratios in law.

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