Nurses from Shellharbour Hospital will rally today to ensure Illawarra patients get the same level of care as those in Sydney.
In a day that has been dubbed Super Wednesday, nurses from more than seven hospitals across NSW will take part in the rally, descending on their respective workplaces to demand better nurse to patient ratios.
Mark Murphy, organiser for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, said the campaign aimed to put pressure on Coalition MPs and raise community awareness about the importance of mandated ratios for nurses.
‘‘We’re trying to ensure that just because a patient doesn’t live in a Sydney metro area, it doesn’t mean they’re entitled to any lesser care,’’ Mr Murphy said.
‘‘It is evident throughout the world that nurse to patient ratios ensure safer patient care.’’
Last month, the Mercury reported that Illawarra nurses care for five patients each while nurses in Sydney hospitals care for four patients.
Mr Murphy said that nurse to patient ratios were agreed upon as part of award negotiations in 2011 between the NSW Nurses’ Association and the previous Labor government. These ratios applied to city hospitals, such as Royal Prince Alfred and St George, which are classified as Peer Group A.
The ratios have already begun to be rolled out in the medical and surgical wards of these hospitals, but the NSW Nurses’ Association campaign is challenging Barry O’Farrell’s government to expand the ratios into regional areas and to take in speciality wards, such as emergency, mental health and paediatrics, as part of new award negotiations.
‘‘The big message that we’re trying to push is that if Coalition MPs care about their constituents, they should be getting on board,’’ Mr Murphy said. ‘‘It’s not about higher pay rates, it’s about ensuring patient care.’’
NSW Nurses’ Association general secretary Brett Holmes said safe nurse-to-patient ratios were essential to improve the level of care offered in regional hospitals.
“Nurses and midwives working under the first round of compulsory, minimum ratios are clear they have provided a safer clinical and less stressed working environment,’’ Mr Holmes said.
‘‘There is no doubt mandated minimum staffing arrangements protect safe staffing levels.’’
The rally will take place at 12.30pm at Shellharbour Hospital.
Member for Kiama Gareth Ward, Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson and Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba are expected to speak at the rally.