Win for Hazelton means a win for health care

by Rachel Holdsworth and Nikita Kumar

NSW state election candidate strives to increase the number of professionally trained nurses, given the alarmingly low nurse-to-patient ratio in the Central West.  

Outside Bathurst regional hospital. Photo by Rachel Holdsworth.

Kate Hazelton says that if she is elected for the seat of Orange, she will push for more funding with regional hospitals to help boost the current one nurse to four patients ratio.

With a low ratio, nurses are finding themselves stretched between patients, especially those with high-demand needs such as requiring assistance to use the bathroom. The level of unattendance has led to unhappy patients feeling neglected and isolated.

Registered Nurse, Kerrie Thomson says that she feels disappointed when she cannot provide the level of special care that she was taught to.

The uneven ratio has also resulted in a drop in communication throughout hospitals where nurses no longer have time to sit and talk to their patients, making their day-to-day operations difficult and unenjoyable.

Nurses undergoing training. [Photo permission by Charles Sturt University]

General Secretary, Brett Holmes from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association agrees with the significant impact of the ratio on hospital operations, specifically for regional patients feeling ill-treated in comparison to metropolitan hospitals.

“Make sure their hospitals are far better staffed on every shift and that the people of rural nsw are not missing out on nursing care that people in the city are privileged to have,” he says.    

The Nationals candidate proposed more training opportunities to increase the number of nurses, particularly outside of universities.

NSW universities currently provide extensive training for registered nurses, however Mrs Thomson sees many young nurses using their degree as a stepping stone rather than pursuing nursing.

In agreeance, Mrs Hazelton wants to see more enrolled and assistant nurses being trained extensively through TAFE and other specialised programs.

As the election draws near on March 23, Orange citizens await the proposed promises for healthcare training and education.