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Nurses rally over nurse-to-patient ratios

Protests are due to take place in a number of Sydney hospitals this week, as nurses call for reform.

Nurses campaigning for a major reform of the NSW public health system are planning to protest at Sydney's Liverpool Hospital amid rolling rallies across the state.

The NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) said its member workers at the hospital would rally at lunchtime today, demanding minimum nurse-to-patient ratios to improve the quality and safety of patient care.

NSWNA general secretary Brett Holmes said public hospital and community healthcare nurses had backed the reform, which, if implemented, would be the biggest overhaul of the system in decades.

The association claims nurse shortages and poor skill mix has plagued the public health system for too long, risking patient safety.

It wants a one-to-four nurse to patient ratio at most metropolitan hospitals to be included in the new award, after the old one expired on June 30 this year.

Holmes said the ratio had worked well in Victoria and would help overworked nurses to cope.

"The overwhelming feedback from NSW nurses is that ratios, with the right skill mix, are the way to get hospital management to fill vacancies and provide the staffing levels required to provide quality, safe patient care," he said.

Holmes predicted about 100 nurses to rally today and further protests are due to take place at Westmead Hospital and John Hunter Hospital tomorrow, followed by St George, Gosford and Royal North Shore hospitals on Friday.

The NSWNA has also put in a claim for a wage increase of five per cent per annum and a one per cent lift in superannuation.

The campaign to push for the new agreement will include advertising, public events and meetings with state and federal politicians.


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