TYRONE Dungey from the Nurses and Midwives Association refuted Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis's statement low nursing numbers at Grafton Base were linked to the type of care the hospital provides.
Mr Dungey said a patient in a general medical or a surgical ward in Grafton Base Hospital gets five hours of nursing care a day, which is half-an-hour less than a patient in the same ward in a hospital in Lismore or Coffs Harbour and an hour less than in Sydney.
"The comparisons were drawn from the same types of wards," Mr Dungey said. He said another way of looking at the issue was to compare how many patients a nurse in a large regional hospital or a metropolitan hospital had to take care of.
He said in Sydney one nurse looks after three patients, whereas at Grafton Base Hospital one nurse looks after four patients.
Mr Dungey also said the most critical and dangerous time for a patient during a medical emergency was often directly after they are admitted to hospital.
He said low staffing numbers were placing people's lives at risk.
Mr Gulaptis has agreed to sit down with union and hear what it has to say. "He might be unaware of the services we provide and we're looking forward to meeting with him and sitting down to go through it all," Mr Dungey said.
NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner declined to comment but a spokesman from the Health Department said staffing levels in regional hospitals were agreed to by the Nurses and Midwives Association in 2011.
He said some city hospitals had the same staffing levels as large regional hospitals.
"Lismore and Orange have the same nursing hours per patient day in their medical and surgical wards as their city counterpart hospitals such as Canterbury and Manly," the spokesman said.