LOCAL nurses and midwives took their campaign for better patient ratios to the streets of Nowra on Thursday with a march down Junction Street.
Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWMA) staged the rally, seeking signatures on petitions to help force the state government into making changes to the ratios.
They may have been small in number, totalling around 20, but they were certainly loud as they marched down the centre of Nowra’s main street chanting for better conditions.
At one stage the march was interrupted by two local police officers who inquired if the march had been authorised.
Even the police presence didn’t deter the marchers as they continued to Junction Court chanting all the way behind a large banner that read 1 nurse 4 patient 4 safety.
Arriving at Junction Court they were greeted with applause and a crowd keen to sign their petitions.
Secretary of the Shoalhaven Hospital Branch of the NSWMA Annette Alldrick said the purpose of the march was to try to get more signatures on petitions for ratios for the safe patient care campaign.
“We are trying to get safer patient care by getting mandated nursing staff to patient ratios equal in the country to the city,” she said.
“We want one to four in general wards, one to three in emergency, one to three in paediatrics and safe ratios for community mental health and community health nurses as well.”
She said on a typical shift at emergency, staff to patient ratio could vary.
“You don’t know what is going to walk through the door,” she said.
“One of their big problems at Shoalhaven Hospital is they have paediatric nurses during the day for 12 hours but during the night for 12 hours they have none.
“They have one nurse allocated to paediatrics and resuscitation, so if resuscitation comes in there is no nurse for paediatrics and the children have to wait in the waiting room unless they are desperately ill and need to be seen immediately.
“We need more nurses in the ED definitely.”
She said the hospital’s large medical ward was the biggest problem.
“They have a high turnover of patients but also have patients with complex needs who sometimes need very intensive nursing care,” she said.
“Sometimes they have patients who need one-on-one care, either because they are very confused or very sick but at the moment that has to come out of their numbers on the ward.
“What we want is if a patient needs one-on-one we get an extra nurse for it,” she said.
Those involved in the rally will present the petitions to the state government next week.
The campaign is also set to go global on September 17, with nurses and midwives from across Australia joining colleagues from around the world in Global Nurses United.