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Ratios fine as they stand: MP

Saturday, 27th July, 2013

By By Kurtis J Eichler

State MP John Williams disagrees with the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association’s bid for more staff, saying “ratios are fine” as they stand.

Broken Hill nurses joined staff from 165 public hospitals statewide in walking off the job on Wednesday in protest against staff to patient ratios and calls for a wage rise.

More than one third of the local branch of the NSWNMA turned out to “send a message” to Premier Barry O’Farrell and his government.

Yesterday Mr Williams, the Nationals member for Murray-Darling, had his own questions for the NSWNMA’s BH branch.

“The ratios are fine,” Mr Williams said. “What have they done with the extra nurses we put on at the Broken Hill hospital?

“Have they put them in the back room and not let them out?

“I can’t believe that putting on 16 nurses hasn’t improved conditions. I’m not wearing it.”

The ratio now sits at one nurse to five patients on day shifts and 1:7 in the evenings but nurses are demanding 1:4, as in city hospitals.

Mr Williams said the 2.5 per cent pay rise offered to the nurses was the best the state government would put on the table.

“Our policy on wages has been very clear from the start - it’s 2.5 per cent until they can find additional savings.

“The union does this scare campaign so they can have a lot greater negotiating power when it comes to the agreement.”

Barrier Industrial Council president Danny O’Connor called on Mr Williams this week to enter talks with the BIC and the NSWNMA to discuss their demands.

But Mr Williams ruled out another meeting, having held one in May.

“We as politicians don’t negotiate salaries with the nurses.”

Mr O’Connor said Mr Williams’ comments were nothing short of “disgraceful.”

“I’ve actually talked to the nurses and they say the ratios aren’t fine,” Mr O’Connor said.

“And I’ll believe the nurses over John Williams any day.”

NSWNMA president Leanne Barber said a lot of the new nurses hadn’t started yet and the ratio issue had left the hospital in an “alright” situation.

“They are not fine on all the shifts.”

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