Nurses and midwives gathered outside South East Regional Hospital on Wednesday, July 22, to once again call on the NSW government to implement nurse-to-patient ratios.
Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) wanted to highlight growing concerns over short staffing in several hospital wards.
There were 15 nursing staff who attended the action outside SERH with 220 laminated faces, "to represent the over 200 unfilled shifts we have on the last two rosters which goes over a four week period," said NSWNMA councillor and South East Regional Hospital branch delegate, Di Lang.
"We are filling in those shifts with the current staffing that we have so most of us are doing doubles, sometimes two or three in a fortnight, that's a 19 hour shift.
"Our critical care areas, like emergency, maternity and ICU, are being managed with additional agency staff, but a growing number of shifts in our medical and surgical wards are running short-staffed or on the goodwill of nurses to work overtime," said Ms Lang.
"Local nurses are flat out trying to keep up with the demand, but the constant reliance on overtime to cover staffing shortfalls is taking a toll.
"It's not safe for patients. Nurses are burning out trying to give patients the care needed, and increased sick leave is being taken.
"The current system of nursing hours per patient day just doesn't work, we need ratios, we need to have more nurses allocated to each ward so we can share the workload when we do have to flex up
Ms Lang said the current system is over 13 years old and highlighted just how much change has happened elsewhere in the hospital, having gone from paper to electronic medical records because, "it's up to date and it's modern," however that the "current roster and funding tool we have is not modern and we want that to change so we will continue to fight for that in whatever matter we can."
"Victoria and Queensland have mandated nurse-to-patient ratios, it's time for NSW to hurry up," said Ms Lang.
NSWNMA South East Regional Hospital Branch members are requesting that residents call on the NSW government to introduce nurse-to-patient ratios.