MORE than 120 nurses and midwives stopped work on Wednesday to protest for better staff-patient ratios.
As part of a state-wide protest they joined colleagues and walked off the job for two hours.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWMA) wants a ratio of one nurse to four patients in every hospital, not just in the metropolitan areas of Sydney.
While the main rally was at Sydney Olympic Park, where a special general meeting of the NSWMA was staged, around the state others gathered at various locations to watch the events unfold via a live video link.
NSWMA regional organiser Mark Murphy said the Bomaderry turnout was fantastic.
“We had that many members turn up that we had to change rooms,” he said.
“We had 122 people turn up and we had only been given a room that would cater for 40 people.
“It just showed the level of commitment local nurses throughout this region have for their patients,” he said.
The campaign is set to be expanded to the global stage.
On September 17 nurses and midwives from around Australia will join with colleagues from around the world in Global Nurses United, a worldwide day of action.
“It is not just here in NSW that nurses are fighting for better ratios, it’s right around the world and we will be part of that,” he said.
“Nurses and midwives have also moved to escalate our workplace and community campaign to convince the NSW government that the nursing ratios system should be extended to more clinical areas and improved to guarantee the same nursing in all hospitals in NSW.
“A resolution has been put forward to continue our fight for safe patient care and more than 5000 members voted to endorse that.”
Nurses from Wollongong, Shellharbour, Batemans Bay, Narooma, the Eurobodalla and the Shoalhaven attended the Bomaderry rally.
“This is a show of support and solidarity and drives home the point that nurses really care about our patients and our campaign is all about safe patient care,” Mr Murphy said.
“Health Minister Skinner said it is not one size fits all and regional centres can’t be the same as Sydney.
“But if you have pneumonia and live in Sydney or pneumonia and live in a regional area, why should you receive fewer nursing hours of care in a week just because of the postcode you live in?
“We need some form of mandated minimum staffing levels which at the moment don’t exist.
“In big Sydney hospitals the ratio is one to four and in other larger areas like Wollongong and John Hunter but there are no guarantees they are going to stay.
“The government’s already changed and attacked our wage claim. We are just asking for what was in accordance with what the government stated when it came into office.
“We need ratios to ensure safer patient care across the board and want expanded ratios in specialty areas like emergency departments, paediatric units and want more face to face contact hours for community health and community mental health as well,” he said.
Despite nurses walking off the job on Wednesday, an Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District spokeswoman confirmed the hospitals across the district were adequately staffed.
“Some nursing and midwifery staff took part in stop-work action but the ISLHD had plans in place to minimise any potential disruption to services.
“Appropriate staffing will be maintained during any action to ensure patients are cared for safely.”