The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has renewed calls for the state government to fast-track the remainder of its planned nursing and midwifery ‘boost’ following the release of new hospital data that reveals widespread pressures plaguing public hospitals.
The union’s message is clear: increase our health workforce before it’s too late. It says mounting pressures threaten both the delivery of safe patient care and the health of the workforce.
According to the NSWMA, the latest Bureau of Health Information quarterly report shows that even prior to the extraordinary challenges triggered by the current COVID-19 outbreak, public hospital emergency departments experienced record-high attendances, with patients typically waiting longer to receive care.
NSWMA General Secretary Brett Holmes argues the Apr-Jun data further reinforces the urgent need to recruit more nurses and midwives to deliver the level of safe care every patient deserves.
“Once again we’ve got record numbers of people seeking urgent medical care at their public hospitals,” Mr Holmes said.
“More patients, arriving very unwell, and longer wait times are all an unfortunate recipe for poorer health outcomes.
“Add to that a record number of babies delivered, and the highest number of elective surgeries ever performed for the quarter, and the unprecedented demand being placed on our health workforce is apparent.”
Mr Holmes said union members have repeatedly called for the introduction of nurse-to-patient ratios across the state’s health system in order to meet the rising healthcare demand. Yet, the government has continued to ignore pleas.
The government must now fast-track the remainder of its planned workforce ‘boost’ to better support the growing number of fatigued and burnt-out nurses and midwives who continue to face challenges amid mounting pressures, he said.
“Nurses and midwives across NSW deserve more than token acknowledgements by the government for their ongoing efforts,” Mr Holmes said.
“Nurses and midwives should be afforded adequate recognition for keeping our public hospitals open and deserve to be heard when raising serious patient safety or professional concerns.
“We need the right numbers of nurses and midwives, with the right skills, to be available at the right time – that includes shift-by-shift ratios across areas such as emergency departments, critical care units, maternity services and acute mental health units.”