Labor leader Luke Foley joins Upper Hunter candidate Martin Rush at Singleton Hospital for major announcement

PATIENT safety will improve with more nurses in Upper Hunter hospitals – under a Luke Foley Labor government pledge to lift nurse-to-patient ratios in the region’s hospitals.

Mr Foley made the announcement during a visit to Singleton on Tuesday as part of his state-wide tour to promote the party’s policy of putting hospitals and schools before Sydney stadiums.

“We’ll increase ratios in hospitals across the Upper Hunter to ensure better patient care and reduce understaffing problems that have plagued the public health system under the Nationals,” he said.

NSW Labor’s policy will also introduce mandated staffing levels in regional hospitals like Singleton Hospital and Muswellbrook District Hospital, which will bring them into line with Sydney hospitals.

Mr Foley was joined by Country Labor candidate for the Upper Hunter Martin Rush outside Singleton Hospital, alongside nurses who have been calling on the NSW Government to mandate that regional hospitals get the same nurse to patient ratios as city hospitals.

“Our Upper Hunter hospitals are understaffed and local patients are suffering due to National Party underfunding of our health services,” Mr Rush said.

“Labor is committed to supporting our hard-working nurses as they are an essential frontline service that our community depends on.

“Nurse-to-patient ratios will make a big difference in improving outcomes for local patients.”

Labor’s policy will employ hundreds more nurses in “B” and “C” group hospitals across NSW, improving patient care in about 60 separate hospitals – most of them outside Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.

Mr Foley said the nurses and midwives did extraordinary work but were under severe pressure. 

“They are overworked and under-resourced due to a lack of support from the Berejiklian government,” he stated.

“Numerous studies show that nurse-to-patient ratios save lives as there is a clear link between higher staff levels and improved outcomes for patients.

“This expansion adds to what we have already announced – health care should not be postcode dependent.

“We will employ hundreds more nurses for city and country hospitals.

“Nurses are the bedrock of our hospitals.

“They make an extraordinary contribution but they need a system where their work can be delivered more efficiently – and without adding additional stress to their crucial jobs.

“It’s shameful that the government allows hospitals to be understaffed while putting billions of dollars into Sydney stadiums.”

NSW Labor’s full and detailed policy will be released closer to the March 2019 election and will be fully-costed.

Victoria and Queensland have already enshrined nurse-to-patient ratios in law.