Petition shows public is rallying behind nurses' call to arms

SIGN HERE: Orange residents Nev Prince (back right) and Adam Hearne (front right) show their support for Orange nurses Matt Barr and Liz Rivas as part of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association campaign for more nurses to improve patient staff to patient ratios in regional hospitals. Photo: MARK LOGAN  0629mlnurses

SIGN HERE: Orange residents Nev Prince (back right) and Adam Hearne (front right) show their support for Orange nurses Matt Barr and Liz Rivas as part of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association campaign for more nurses to improve patient staff to patient ratios in regional hospitals. Photo: MARK LOGAN 0629mlnurses

ORANGE nurses are buoyed by the support of the public who have signed a petition to increase staff to patient ratios at the hospital.

Over the weekend, nurses asked residents to support their push for the government to improve staff to patient ratios, which was first raised in a statewide campaign by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) last year.

Orange branch president Matt Barr said Orange hospital’s increasing workload as a regional acute care hospital was placing extra pressure on nurses.

“The patients we are getting now are much sicker and the nurses are always critically thinking to prioritise what job has to be done first because of the numbers,” he said.

Mr Barr hopes the Western NSW Local Health District will focus on increasing staff  to patient ratios in the new financial year.

NSWNMA mental health branch secretary Liz Rivas said lower staff to patient ratios were also impacting on mental health patients.

“We have been really fortunate, just about everyone we ask is keen to sign,” she said.

“We have only had a couple of people who haven’t been willing to sign, but we have to recognise that not everyone has had a positive experience in hospital.”

Mr Barr said understaffing had the potential to impact on a patient’s experience in hospital.

Orange resident Nev Prince said he was keen to sign the petition.

“Our nurses do such a great job and deserve our support in this,” he said.

Robyn Harmer agreed.

“Our nurses have such big workloads and I’m happy to sign to get them more staff,” she said.

Mr Barr stressed the issues in Orange were part of a regional problem.

“All we are asking for in Orange is the same staff to patient ratio as the hospitals on the other side of the mountains,” he said.

“That should be possible for a hospital like Orange.”

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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