NURSES on the Mid-North Coast will start voting on a new staff ratios and wages claim next week.
The claim challenges the State Government to build on the safer hospital staffing levels first introduced in 2011 under an agreement between the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) and the previous Labor government.
Seven NSWNMA branches representing more than 1100 public sector nurses and midwives will be eligible to vote on the proposed claim.
Those branches include the Port Macquarie Base Hospital as well as the Bellingen River District Hospital, the Coffs Harbour Health Campus, Kempsey District Hospital, Macksville Health Campus, Macleay-Hastings Community Health Service and the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre.
The proposed claim includes guaranteed, safer nursing levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments and rural hospitals and multipurpose services and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services.
It also includes two 2.5 per cent per year pay rises, providing the majority of experienced, full-time nurses and midwives with a payrise of more than $70 per week or more than $3800 per year by July 2014.
Voting will start next Monday (February 18) and will continue for two weeks, finishing at 4pm on Friday, March 1.
If approved by a majority of the Statewide branch vote the NSWNMA will then seek to have the claim incorporated into the new Public Health System Nurses & Midwives (State) Award, which replaces the current award when it expires on June 30 this year.
NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said the first round of compulsory, minimum ratios had provided a safer clinical and less stressed working environment.
”The challenge for the O’Farrell Government is to build on this and ensure every public patient in NSW has access to the same level of safer care,” he said.
Mr Holmes said many people would be “surprised and shocked” to know that minimum staffing levels are currently not guaranteed in NSW hospitals for seriously ill infants and children.