News

Nurse ratio far too low

By Southern Riverina News

A small but strong contingent of local nurses made their voices heard at Finley’s Diggers Park on Wednesday calling on the government for a better ratio of nurses in local health district hospitals.

The rally was organised by NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association and was attended by supporters and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party Murray candidate Helen Dalton. Another rally was held in Deniliquin later that day.

The nurses were making the community aware Finley Hospital only has one registered nurse (RN) and one enrolled nurse (EN) at one time, however it can have an additional EN working weekends when the Emergency Department is open.

NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association Finley branch president Michelle Silva said the government needs to understand it’s hard to attract nurses to the local area.

She said the lack of nurse ratios is also occurring in surrounding Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) hospitals including Berrigan, Tocumwal, Jerilderie and Deniliquin.

‘‘The government needs to fund the local health district and we want it to commit a lot more money to the area.

‘‘It makes it hard for the nurses who run the ward and the ED at the the same time.

‘‘At Finley during the weekend when the ED is open we have one RN and two EN’s working but we need at least another RN.

‘‘We find it hard to attract people to the MLHD hospitals and towns.

‘‘New nurses and graduates don’t seem to want to come to the area, which is similar to doctors. They want to stick to the city and the bigger hospitals.

‘‘What many people don’t realise is these hospitals can offer so much more experience.

‘‘At the upcoming NSW election, we’re pressuring the government to finance the MLHD a lot more and when it’s supported financially they’re going to be able to attract the nurses.

‘‘We would also like to target is the local high school and explain the Assistance in Nursing Program which can lead to diplomas.’’

Mrs Silva moved from Coffs Harbour to live in the region about six months ago.

Finley local Anne Freestone was among the handful of supporters who attended on Wednesday.

She said like many Finley residents she didn’t realise the nurse to patient ratio was so low and the pressure it causes on nurses and staff.

‘‘I went because I believe in supporting our nurses who do an incredible job, which is much more difficult these days with a lack of security measures.

‘‘ I wasn’t aware they have one RN and one EN on each shift which means if there’s an emergency there is only one or no staff on the wards; I consider that a dangerous situation.

‘‘Finley residents need to become more aware of our central health provider and get behind their efforts to improve the ratios,’’ Mrs Freestone said.