Today’s health care system has been noted by nurses being in great trouble and hence the need for a complete overhaul of the said systems. Owing to the experiences that the nurses practising in the real world are faced with they are moved to take a form of advocacy in order to influence a change in laws, policies and regulations which govern the entire health care system.
This type of advocacy prompts the nurses to step out of their areas of operation into that of politics and policies, an act which many nurses are not positively receptive to. A successful policy advocacy relies heavily on power, the time, the willingness, the energy and the political skills essential for propelling the game in the legislative arena.
Nurse patient ratio legislations
Globally, healthcare systems are stressed by limited health resources thus increasing demands on the services. As the workload steps up and the number of nurses to per patient diminishes, healthcare workers and patients across the global are put at great risks. Nurse’s view understaffing to be a serious problem as far as quality health care is concerned.
Legislations have to be set unit specific ratios so as to guarantee uniform quality healthcare (American Nurses Association., 2006). It is observed that the staffing levels ought to take into control of the patient load and sufficiently enough so as to preempt several adverse events. Increasing the patient to nurse ratios improves the patients’ outcomes.
There have been moves in the government so as to expand the nurse staffing situation in most countries. This debate is expected to provide analysis on the decoupling of tasks in order to understand the patient need which is measured in terms of average nursing time as well as understanding the constituents of a quality service.
One such bill aimed at increasing nurse patient ratios is the ‘Registered Nurses Safe Staffing Act of 2009 Ammends section D’ introduced by the Social Security Act. It is aimed at ensuring that every hospital implements and adopts a staffing system which regulates the number of registered nurses on every shift and that each hospital unit adhere to appropriate staffing levels for better patient care. It also advocates for good record keeping, evaluation of requirements for the participant hospitals and proper data collection.
The legislation also aims at ensuring that hospitals adopt a form of a public reporting scheme on staffing information as well as a daily update on each shift in the hospital. It also expects the hospitals to provide comprehensive reports on the number of licensed and unlicensed nursing staff who are directly responsible for patients’ care (NCSBN, 2006).
Once implemented the legislation will also ensure that penalties for violations of these requirements are executed and also aims at providing protections for whistleblowers such as nurses and other activists.
The legislation though, seems adequate in addressing some of the mostly experienced problems it is still against it. One such group includes the Church whom, driven by their religious beliefs feels that the number of nurses to patients should not be stepped up.
Those backing the legislation are nurses who feel the load on them is just unbearable and that patient to nurses ratios must be kept as low as possible. Also supporting the bill are a majority of the top legislators including the members of parliament who feel that the implementation of the bill will act as an avenue to solving some of the identified problems that is nurse overloads stemming from understaffing (Saad, 2006).
If implemented, it should see that there is a complete recruitment for more nurses and other qualified medical practitioners so as to eliminate cases of nurses strains. Deaths have been reported to occur at the healthcare centers due to understaffing levels. This legislation would ensure a reduction in mortality rates in the health centers as well as ensuring that the health care centers which still exhibit understaffing levels become accountable to the casualties recorded.
Impacts of the bill on the community
Firstly, children and women are the most affected by health problems owing to the delicacy of their cases. This bill would see a reduction to child mortality rates by putting in place measures curbing poor practices in hospitals (Mick, 2004) .
Women also exhibit delicate cases such that a health care program setting sufficient nurses to attend to them would see a reduction on the casualties reported in terms of poor postnatal care, prenatal care and even delivery issues which sometimes encounter poor response due to understaffing and failure of adherence to constructive hospital shifts.