Health Minister Brad Hazzard has hit back at the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association's campaign to increase nurse to patient ratios in the state's hospitals.
It followed rallies at Singleton and Maitland on Wednesday where nurses and midwives called on the major parties to commit to higher nurse to patient ratios.
"So far the major parties haven't done anything for regional areas. The Labor Party has pledged to support the nurses' ratios campaign. The Liberal Party is not supporting the nurses with the ratios campaign," Midwife and Singleton Nurses and Midwives Association secretary Janine Moffitt said.
Ms Moffit said nurse-patient ratios of four to one for surgical and medical and three to one for emergency were needed.
"It's very important for our patients to be given the best quality care and when you haven't got the proper ratios people miss out. When I work in the West Wing as a surgical nurse sometimes you have nine or 10 patients for one nurse," she said.
The current nurse-patient ratio system was introduced with the support of the Nurses and Midwives Association in 2010.
Former Labor Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt and the Nurses and Midwives Association said at the time that the ratio system would provide improved flexibility throughout the state's hospitals.
"The real issue is not the nurse-patient ratio system but the number of nurses," Health Minister Brad Hazzard told the Newcastle Herald on Wednesday.
"The union called for 3500 more nurses to address the current shortage. I managed to convince Treasury to increase it to 5000."
The state government announced last month that it would employ an extra 5000 nurses and midwives over the next four years.
"About half of those nurses and midwives will be working in regional areas like Singleton Maitland," Mr Hazzard said.