Nurses and midwives call for better conditions

Renella Fairley. Photo: Melinda Jane
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Fed-up nurses and midwives say they’re sick of being a dumping ground as they argue for adequate funding and staff-to-patient ratios.

Hosted by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA), members gathered at Nepean Hospital on Wednesday to call on the government to provide better staffing as the hospital continues to burst at the seams.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said nurse and midwifery shortages at Nepean Hospital are putting patients at risk.

“Significant shortages of midwives has resulted in non-midwives covering vacancies, which leads to reduced education around breastfeeding and increased re-admissions of babies post discharge. On average, women birthing at Nepean Hospital are being sent home a whole day earlier compared to the Royal North Shore Hospital,” he said.

“We desperately need the right number of nurses to match the number of patients in the area and ratios are the only way to ensure that.”

The branch is demanding that vacancies be filled and for a more reliable staffing system to be put in place that provides guaranteed minimum ratios in every ward.

Nurses and midwives protested at Nepean Hospital earlier today. Photo: Melinda Jane

Midwife Renella Fairley said staff don’t have the time or beds to care properly for patients.

“I feel that the women of western Sydney are being ripped off, they’re not getting the care they need or deserve, and we as staff feel ashamed of that,” she said.

“We constantly have to fundraise out of our own pockets for the things that we need, like birthing balls, flotation devices or even underwear yet you can drive up the hill to Lithgow where you get that.”

The NSWNMA conducted an investigation into Nepean Hospital last year, which found there was over 6,000 hours of missed nursing care due to a lack of staff.

Nepean Hospital emergency department also recorded the worst treatment times in the state for the second time in September’s quarterly results.

“These families walk away thinking this is the care they deserve and it’s not, they are ripped off and it needs to stop,” Ms Fairley said.

Earlier this week, new State Opposition Leader, Michael Daley, promised to commit to transparent staff to patient ratios if elected in March.

The NSWNMA said they are relying on him to deliver.

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