Consulting for the year ahead

The NSWNMA has conducted focus groups with nurses and midwives as part of the consultative process in the lead up to next year’s Public Health System Award campaign. The face-to-face research explored a wide range of issues of relevance to the campaign and nurses and midwives were forthright in their condemnation of laws enacted by the O’Farrell Government that reduce public sector workers’ rights. In particular, the 2.5% wage cap and the reduction in workers compensation protection dismayed them. Here are some of their comments.

What the members had to say

Workers’ Comp

“I had an accident on the way home from work the other day – two blocks from the hospital and not my fault. I have to fill in an IIMS (Incident Information Management System) report but there is now no WorkCover – I’ve had to use my sick leave to recover.” – Nurse Educator from Nepean Hospital

“After finishing, driving home is always hard because you’re so tired and accidents are a big problem. Taking away the rights of workers comp for these situations might make people not want to work night duty anymore.” – RN from Royal North Shore Hospital

“Our employers expect us to work crazy hours, with strict break times, and no compensation on our way home.” – RN from Hornsby

Changes to IR Laws

“We will have the worst workplace laws in the country and always open for further attack on our workplace conditions.” – RN from Tamworth Hospital

“I am extremely angry about these changes. I think it is dangerous to workers for the government of the day to have so much vested power on these issues. Having the industrial relations [commission] hearing cases of wage and condition disputes ensured that a fair and just hearing occurred.” – RN from Shoalhaven

“I think they see the purpose of the unions very clearly and are acting to change that, to take away the power the unions have had to improve wages and conditions!” – CNS from Grafton Base Hospital

“What is the point negotiating with the government when they have passed laws giving them all the power to decide what workers have to get?”- RN from RPA

Public Health Sector Campaign

“I am not expecting the current government to support our rights. For O’Farrell it’s more important to improve the M5 and M4 and make new roads, but nothing to support the health of the Australian nation.” – RN from Bankstown Hospital

“I become tired of hearing how public servants must cut back while big business gain obscene pay rises and politicians give themselves more than their 2.5% rise.” – EN from Nepean

“The government approach to the public health system is very disrespectful. The public health system is not valued or a priority.” – RN from Prince of Wales Hospital

Patient Care

“I believe ratios have seen an improvement in patient care overall. I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to spend the majority of my shift time in one room with patients. The fact that I can be in the room attending to medications, and at the same time observing how my patients may be eating breakfast or walking or interacting with visitors, enables me to constantly be making assessments about patients.” – RN from Wollongong

“I think in the 28 years I have been doing this job patient care has declined regardless of who was in government. Patient ratios are a great way to start, but as all nurses know, not all patients are created equal. The acuity of patients is much higher now than years ago and I think nurses work harder because of this.” – RN from Coffs Harbour

“Quite frankly I rarely see any difference on the clinical floor when a change of government or policy happens. Our clinical loads remain the same or get heavier and we still need to go through the same process for change. We are the ones that can make a difference to workloads when it comes to fighting for ratios, changing our service delivery or working as a team in improved ways.” – CN/ME from Port Macquarie


“I often think that there are unrealistic expectations on us as workers. I call it the super nurse syndrome. We are well educated and trained and know what is a good balance between service delivery and patient outcomes. That’s why the patient to nurse ratios are such a good health care delivery initiative.” – RN from Manning Rural Referral Hospital

“I love my job. That is why I am still doing it after 20 years spent in public hospitals. However, I wish nurses had more time to spend hands-on, rather than doing paper work.” – RN from Bankstown Hospital

“I’m only a few years into education but feel I’ve found yet another passion in nursing. It is the diversity that I love.” – Nurse Educator from Nepean Hospital

“I must agree about the diversity. Just today for example I spent a couple of hours on the pain round, some time getting ready for the canulation program, I taught all afternoon, and the time in between being on one of the wards, I gently reminded staff about the ‘5 moments for hand hygiene’ before they move to the auditing stage of the process. Tomorrow will be different again. Always something new to learn, which I find fascinating, and then the opportunity to teach it to someone else!” – RN/M from the Centre for Education and Workforce Development