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Nurse fight soon over

Friday, 28th January, 2011

By Andrew Robertson

The NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) expects its long-running dispute with the State Government over nurse-patient ratios to be resolved next week.

The union said yesterday that talks would continue for another week with the government over its offer on the ratios and nurse staffing levels.

The union wants the state government to introduce a ratio of one nurse to every four patients, along with improvements in the skill mix of staff in all units.

Negotiations between the two parties have continued after the government made an offer last week that it said had addressed nurses' concerns.

NSWNA general secretary Brett Holmes said that Tuesday night's meeting of the NSWNA's Council had agreed to one more week of negotiations.

He said a final decision on the offer would be made at next week's Council meeting.

"After another week of negotiations I am confident a complete proposed offer will be available for consideration at the NSWNA Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday," he said.

The announcement came as local branch delegates of the NSWNA met State MP John Williams yesterday.

Mr Williams said the government's offer was deceptive because it did not meet every aspect of their nurse-patient ratio claim.

"This type of action taken by the government really does make it difficult for us to engender confidence in them."

He said the issue needed to be resolved because the Coalition did not want to inherit a problem of the government's making if it won the election.

"The problem that front-line nurses are facing is a real concern," Mr Williams said.

"I do hold concerns that nurses have been compromised for some time."

Branch secretary Bonnie Tavian said the dispute was not about money but about ensuring nurses were not overworked and that patients received adequate care.

She said a number of local nurses had already decided to leave the profession, or transfer to other areas of the hospital, in recent weeks.

"A lot of people are tossing up whether it's worth continuing in nursing."

Branch president, Leanne Barber, said the local health service was working hard to recruit graduate nurses and Assistants In Nursing (AIN).

But they could not replace qualified nurses.

"We still need that ratio claim to go ahead for patient care.

"We've got a really good facility and offer an exceptional service but unfortunately we need more nurses to come through the door."

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