News & Events

Birmingham challenges Romney on safe nurse staffing

BEVERLY, Mass. — Standing with nurses on the grounds of Beverly Hospital, Democratic candidate for Governor Tom Birmingham today drew a sharp distinction between the health care plan he proposed last month and the one offered this Tuesday by Republican candidate Mitt Romney. "Mitt Romney’s plan does nothing to address the problem of safe nurse staffing. This is a problem I will take on as Governor," Birmingham said.

Yesterday, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations released startling findings from their national study. Inadequate nurse staffing levels contribute to nearly a quarter of all hospital incidents that lead to patient injury or death.

"As nurses struggle to provide quality patient care in understaffed environments made worse by a looming nursing shortage, Tom Birmingham has reached out to the nursing community to hear our concerns and has joined us in supporting legislation to address this crisis," said Karen Higgins, President of the 20,000-member Massachusetts Nurses Association, which recently endorsed Birmingham’s campaign for Governor.

Referring to Romney’s plan, MNA Executive Director Julie Pinkham said that the nurses of Massachusetts took "no great comfort in reviewing a health care proposal by a candidate for Governor that fails to address one of the most widely publicized and documented problems confronting the health care system."

Birmingham has been a leader on health care issues. He overrode Governor Weld’s veto of an increase in the cigarette tax so that a program that provides universal access to health insurance for every child could be funded. He has championed the Prescription Advantage program and bulk purchasing strategies to help seniors get more affordable prescription drugs. His support for safe nurse staffing levels is yet another example of his dedication to quality health care in Massachusetts, he said.

Marcia Hams, a consumer health care advocate agreed that safe nurse staffing levels are critical to improving care in Massachusetts. "Inadequate nurse staffing levels lead to poor patient care, increased medical costs in the long run and delays for people who need to get into emergency rooms. We have to strengthen our health care system by protecting and expanding access and by making sure that our nurse staffing levels are adequate to provide quality care for patients."