ALL but two of the Hunter’s by-election candidates have thrown their support behind mandated nurse-to-patient ratios at John Hunter Hospital’s emergency department.
The nurse’s union recently sent out a letter to candidates asking if they would fight to introduce a 1:3 nurse-to-patient ratio at the busy emergency department.
It followed the release of internal NSW Health documents which showed an extra 500,000 people would choke state emergency departments each year if Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s GP co-payment got through.
NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association Member organiser Laura McKone said she was really pleased with how much support candidates had shown for their ‘ratios’ campaign.
She said that two candidates running for the Charlestown seat were yet to commit: Palmer United Party endorsed independent Suellen Wrightson and Independent candidate Arjay Martin.
“We are very happy with the overall positive response from the candidates from both electorates,” she said.
“We wanted to get to the candidates before the election and we will be holding them to this.”
Ms Wrightson said she was trying to get a hold of the Liberal Party for more information so she could make an “informed decision” before responding.
“I support wholeheartedly increasing our nursing numbers in order to balance out that ratio,” she added.
“In an emergency department setting we cannot compromise our level of care.
“But I have a responsibility to make an informed decision on what I’m supporting.”
Mr Martin was wanting to do more investigation into the issue.
“I was a community service worker and appreciate the hard work that nurses do,” he said.
“I haven’t had a chance to investigate this or find out the implications of the mandatory ratios.
“What happens if they don’t have enough nurses and an extra patient comes in?”