Nurses call for better staff-to-patient ratios

COUNTRY nurses have called for better staff-to-patient ratios in regional NSW hospitals ahead of next week's State Budget.

Rallying outside the NSW Nationals annual general conference at Queanbeyan on Friday, a team from the state's Nurses and Midwives Association urged country MPs to bring regional hospitals in line with metropolitan hospitals.

They maintained that at many hospitals outside the Sydney region, the ratio on a general surgical ward was five patients to one nurse compared with four to one in the city.

General secretary Brett Holmes said the statistics showed most regional patients effectively received "one hour less" of direct care.

"As advocates for better health outcomes, our members strongly believe country patients deserve the same level of nursing care that patients in the city receive," Mr Holmes said.

"Ideally, our campaign for mandated nurse-to-patient ratios would be raised inside the NSW Nationals annual conference, to let us know the MPs really do care about people in their rural electorates as well as the need for improved public health services in the bush."

A petition of more than 10,000 signatures, which calls on the NSW Government to expand legally enforceable nurse to patient ratios across the state, was also handed to Monaro MP John Barilaro.

Deputy Premier and NSW Nationals leader Andrew Stoner told the conference regional NSW would benefit from $1billion in drought, tourism and roads funding in the budget.

It comes after the party voted in support of the sale of the state's poles and wires on the condition country power company Essential Energy be excluded from any future leases.

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