NSW Work Conditions & Differences In Nursing

Feb 24, 2022 | Aussie Nurse

It’s Tuesday the 15th February 2022, this morning I’m watching the news and on the screen its showing nurses in New South Wales (NSW) who have began a strike for 24 hours, they are striking over pay rates and nurse to patient ratio levels

The COVID-19 pandemic has put particular focus on there being no nurse to patient ratios in NSW, it’s my understanding that in Australia only Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia are the states with defined mandatory minimum staffing ratios. 

This pandemic has had a significant emotional and physical impact on nurses, as a workforce we all have remained agile as the way we work has changed from the usual with being redeployed or furloughed. Although seeing NSW nurses on the TV, saying that they are tired nurses is too little in comparison to their anger especially with hearing that they have had their wages frozen in this time of pandemic.

I am thankful to be working here in Victoria, a place that has for many years had a well established nurse staffing levels which is mandated by law, it seems that Victoria was one of the first places in the world to make ratios in practice mandatory.

We know that ratios are not a ‘no one-size-fits-all’ approach as acuity levels are different from one patient to another, but the impact on the quality of patient care outcomes from specific ratio levels is immense. 

The impact of nurse to patient ratios is – 

  • Quicker & timely response to deteriorating patients
  • Ability to spend time & provide education to patients, families & care givers
  • Prevent readmissions & shorten length of hospital stays
  • Better job satisfaction & reduction of moral injuries 
  • Retention of nurses in the workforce 
  • Overall reduced costs &
  • Most importantly nurse to patient ratios reduce hospital mortality, it saves lives

Not forgetting healthcare as a whole is a complex system and nurse to patient ratios are mainly for hospital based nurses. Since starting this blog I’ve learnt there are a few differences between job structures for nurses, of course there is the public and private systems but there are other business models with different pay rates, working conditions and workloads.

For example nurses in General Practice (GP) surgeries work in a business model that is run very different from either a public or private hospital facility and this does affect their pay rates as it is significantly lower too.

Another example of nurse specialities with different pay rates as one another are a critical care nurses wage which is vastly different from an aged care nurse working in a nursing home, both job roles have different responsibilities, yet both are important.

As the workforce of nurses is so large and can be so different this is why unions like the ANMF are important. For any employee they are available to help resolve any workplace or professional issues by providing a voice with advice and support, the ANMF has over 310,000 members.

Union’s like the ANMF work on areas of “Nurse/midwife patient ratios, qualification allowances, ADOs, pay rises, professional development leave, study leave, maternity leave, no-lifting policies, improved occupational health and safety standards and night duty allowances are just some of the conditions that have been achieved for many nurses, midwives and carers because of ANMF” (https://www.anmfvic.asn.au/about-us – 2022, – not affiliated).

Watching the public hospital nurses on strike in NSW, it wouldn’t have been an easy decision for them especially through a pandemic. Its difficult hearing the stories of ratios and work conditions in another state within Australia especially when it’s very different here in Victoria. The NSW nurses are united and finally being seen, this is only a start though yet the longer term impact will affect the delivery of care with safer outcomes and will save lives.


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(Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash)



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