PATIENT SAFETY: Coffs Harbour nurses Amanda Short, Jack Schwartz, Chris McMillan and Sue White.
PATIENT SAFETY: Coffs Harbour nurses Amanda Short, Jack Schwartz, Chris McMillan and Sue White.

Nurses unite for better patient care

COFFS Harbour nurses have joined thousands of others around the state to campaign for safer conditions for patients.

The launch outlined nurses' claim for safer staffing levels that would expand those agreed with the previous Labor government.

The association has challenged Premier Barry O'Farrell agree to a new agreement with public health system nurses.

As part of the claim, Coffs Harbour nurses want the number of patients per staff member increased to city levels.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Coffs Harbour Base Hospital branch are calling for the number of nursing hours in country hospitals to match those in metropolitan ones.

"A patient in the country gets 5.5 nursing hours in a day, in the city they automatically get six," NSWNMA Coffs Harbour member Amanda Short said.

"The more nursing hours you've got, the better the ratio of nurses to patients."

Community nurse Chris Ms Millan said that the burden taken up by her section had increased dramatically.

"People are being pushed out of the hospital at a faster rate than ever," she said.

"Our workloads have really increased."

A major part of the nurses' claim is guaranteed safer nursing levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services, and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services.

Coffs Harbour Mental Health nurse Jack Schwartz said that his section was the biggest of its type in NSW but guaranteed staffing levels introduced last year had already been eroded and psychiatric nursing was no longer considered a specialty.

"We're expected to take new nurses and train them, but we don't have a designated educator," he said.



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