THE NSW Nurses and Midwives Association has voted to support a claim for better pay and staff ratios at public hospitals in the local area.
The association will push ahead with its claims and will present them to the NSW government later this week with the hope of having it incorporated into the new Public Health System Nurses and Midwives (State) Award, which replaces the current award when it expires on June 30.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) branches at the state’s public hospitals and community health centres have voted in record numbers for a staff ratios and wages claim, which challenges the NSW government to build on the safer hospital staffing levels introduced in 2011 under an agreement between the NSWNMA and previous Labor government.
A record 215 NSWNMA branches, representing more than 30,000 public-sector nurses and midwives throughout NSW, have voted over the last two weeks, with 214 branches voting to endorse the claim and only one Justice Health branch voting against it.
A number of local hospitals across the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District endorsed the claim including David Berry Hospital, Illawarra Shoalhaven Mental Health Nurses, Milton-Ulladulla Hospital, Nowra Community Health Nurses, Shoalhaven District Hospital and South Coast Community Nurses.
A key feature of the claim is guaranteed safer nursing levels for seriously ill children, emergency departments, high dependency units and rural hospitals and multipurpose services, and safer nursing and midwifery staffing arrangements in community health services.
The claim also includes two 2.5 per cent per year pay rises, which will provide the majority of experienced, full-time nurses and midwives with a pay rise of more than $70 per week, or more than $3800 per year, by July 2014.
NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said the strong branch vote showed NSW nurses and midwives were very committed to providing safer patient care across the entire public hospital and community health system.
“Nurses and midwives working under the first round of compulsory, minimum ratios are clear they have provided a safer clinical and less stressful working environment,” he said.
“This record vote indicates just how committed they are to extending the benefits to all patients around the state.
“The strong vote also sends a clear message to the state government about the nurses and midwives’ determination to maintain and extend safer staffing levels.
“The O’Farrell government is very willing to take credit every time a new batch of nurses or midwives is employed to fill the new positions created by the ratios, which were actually agreed between the NSWNMA and previous Labor government.
“It will be interesting to see how it reacts now that it has a chance to act in its own right and extend this reform into other important areas such as children’s wards, emergency departments, high dependency units, rural facilities and community health services.
“Hopefully it will heed the
message from the nurses and
midwives and do the right thing, without the need for an extended campaign.”