Central West nurses involved in mental healthcare services have welcomed NSW Labor’s promise to introduce nursing ratios into 37 adult acute inpatient mental health units across the state.
Orange-based president of the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association Mid-Western (NSWNMA) Mental Health Branch, Angela Walton, says it's fantastic news and with more staff they can provide the best care to patients.
"They [patients] come to us when they are most vulnerable," Ms Walton said.
"With the current staffing we are not able to provide the care that they [patients] require. It will improve the safety for both patients and staff."
NSWNMA has long been demanding more nurses be hired to ease excessive workloads.
Ms Walton said the introduction of nurse-to-patient ratios will help with the recruitment and retention of nurses.
"Mental health is a specialty in its own right," Ms Walton said.
"The ratios will hopefully encourage nurses to look at mental health, which they have not considered as a career beforehand, and it will reduce the burden on staff who are currently working in the profession.
"Extra nurses will ensure a safer and more stable environment which will make for a happier work environment, which in turn produces better health outcomes for the patients."
NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes asked the Liberal-Nationals coalition to follow Labor's suit.
“For too long our mental health nurses have had to struggle with ongoing understaffing, excessive workloads and poor skill mix issues," Mr Holmes said.
“Mental health nurses are burning out under the pressure and they are already in short supply."
Mr Holmes said Labor’s pledge will deliver nurse-to-patient ratios of 1:4 on morning and afternoon shifts, and 1:7 on night shifts, as well as an in-charge nurse across all shifts.