Nurses speak up about patients' safety

Illawarra and Shoalhaven nurses will take time on Monday to celebrate, and reflect, during International Nurses Day, marking Florence Nightingale's birthday.

Activities will include a pizza delivery for nurses at Bulli Hospital; a morning tea at Coledale Hospital and cupcakes for nursing staff at Port Kembla Hospital.

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) regional organiser Mark Murphy said nurses at other hospitals, including Wollongong and Shoalhaven, had combined their celebrations with last week's International Midwives Day.

Mr Murphy said the theme for International Nurses Day was A Force for Change, highlighting the need for nurses and midwives to continue to speak up about "putting patient safety first".

"NSWNMA members continue to fight for ratios in the form of mandated minimum staffing levels as research demonstrates a nurse-to-patient ratio ensures the provision of safer patient care," he said.

"Our ratios campaign is aimed at expanding nurse-to-patient ratios in medical-surgical units of one nurse to four patients outside of the big Sydney hospitals, and some outside of Sydney, including Wollongong.

"Additionally, we want ratios introduced into specialty areas like the emergency department; paediatrics (ratio of 1:3); high dependency units (1:2); and intensive care units (1:1)."

Mr Murphy said the association was campaigning against the push by state and federal governments to privatise healthcare.

This included the 20-bed sub-acute mental health unit being built on the grounds of Shoalhaven Hospital.

"The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District will operate this unit for the first 12 months - after this, the operation of this unit will be open to non-government organisations.

"The NSWNMA views this as a form of 'privatisation by stealth' and this is becoming commonplace throughout NSW," Mr Murphy said.

The nurses union would also fight to ensure that Medicare was not dismantled, he said.

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