Qld private patients paying big bucks to receive less care - Ramsay Private Hospitals

Published: 4 November 2019 

QUEENSLAND private patients paying big bucks to be admitted to Ramsay Health Care private hospitals are receiving less care than non-paying public patients.

Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) Acting Secretary Sandra Eales said Ramsay nurses had raised serious concerns about patient safety due to widespread understaffing.

Ms Eales said Queensland private patients deserved to know Ramsay private hospitals were staffed at levels far lower than Queensland’s public hospitals – and lives were potentially at risk.

She said Ramsay nurses were deeply concerned for the wellbeing of their patients. 

"Nurse to patient ratios in the public system are one nurse to four patients during the day and one nurse to seven patients overnight," Ms Eales said.

"Patients at Ramsay Hospitals are subject to less nurses and the QNMU is advised that at times Ramsay patients experience ratios of one Registered Nurse to 18 patients.

“Nurses at Ramsay private hospitals are deeply concerned for the level of care being provided to their patients as a result of widespread understaffing.

“The public perception is that the provision of care is always better in private hospitals but that is simply not always the case.

“Ratios required in public hospitals do not apply in private hospitals. This means private patients simply don’t receive the same level of care as public patients.

“International research has found an increase in a nurse’s workload by one patient, increases the likelihood of an inpatient dying by seven per cent. 

“Something needs to be done. The QNMU commends Ramsay nurses for raising this issue and is determined to campaign on behalf of Ramsay patients and those who care for them.”

Ramsay Health Care recently reported net profits after tax of $545.5 million, up from $388 million last year.

In 2016, Queensland became just the fourth government in the world to introduce legislated nurse to patient ratios in the state’s public hospitals. Mandated nurse to patient ratios are now being rolled out in public hospitals state-wide. 

The QNMU is determined to see nurse to patient and resident ratios made law in Queensland private hospitals and aged care facilities throughout the state and nation-wide.

Ms Eales said Ramsay staffing issues were highlighted and discussed during ongoing Enterprise Bargaining negotiations between Ramsay Health Care and the QNMU in recent days. 

Worried nurses listed chronic understaffing and concerns for patient safety as their top concerns. Issues include staff numbers, patient to nurse ratios, staff skill mix and pay rates at Ramsay private facilities. Ramsay Health Care have private hospitals between Cairns and the Gold Coast. 

Ms Eales said she applauded QNMU members for taking a stand on the issue and refusing an Enterprise Bargaining agreement under existing conditions.

In a win for staff, Ramsay Health Care representatives this week backed down and agreed not to resubmit a proposed agreement members had already refused. An existing agreement had been due to go to members again for vote on Monday. 

“We welcome Ramsay’s decision to back down on again going to ballot with an agreement staff had already rejected,’’ Ms Eales said.

“This opens the door for further negotiation to potentially improve the offer and conditions for Ramsay patients and those who care for them.’’

Ramsay have confirmed a pay rise of 2.5 per cent will be passed on to staff. Ramsay Health Care Queensland private facilities include Cairns Private Hospital, Cairns Day Surgery, The Cairns Clinic, Caloundra Private Clinic, Greenslopes Private Hospital, New Farm Clinic, Pindara Day Surgery, Short Street Day Surgery, Hillcrest Rockhampton Private Hospital, John Flynn Private Hospital at Tugun on the Gold Coast, Nambour Selangor Private Hospital, Noosa Hospital, North West Private Hospital in Everton Park, Brisbane, Pindara Private Hospital, Southport Private Hospital, St Andrew's Ipswich Private Hospital and Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital. 

Media contact: Lou Robson - 0422 550 278