Nationals get health message

"We will now intensify our campaign in the electorates held by the National Party."
“We will now intensify our campaign in the electorates held by the National Party.”

Members of the NSWNMA from across the state travelled to Bathurst to champion the cause of country health services.

Nurses set up camp for three days outside the New South Wales National Party’s annual conference in Bathurst last month, as part of our campaign for equal nurse-to-patient ratios across the state.

Sixteen nurses, representing all but three of the 19 NSW electorates held by Nationals MPs, took up positions outside the conference, bringing the ratios issue to the attention of more than 400 conference delegates.

The National Party holds most of the rural seats in the state parliament and is a coalition partner with Barry O’Farrell’s Liberals in the state government.

Delegates arriving for a welcome reception the night before the conference opened were met by a line of nurses holding candles, in a vigil outside the National Racing Museum, Mount Panorama.

A NSWNMA advertisement in the local paper the next day called on Nationals MPs to put the safety of their country constituents first.

To keep the message of equal treatment for rural nursing in the forefront of delegates’ minds, a mobile NSWNMA billboard followed them all over town, including parking outside Rydges at Mount Panorama where the Nationals hosted a business breakfast.

NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said the 16 nurses took time off work to make the trip to Bathurst because “they are passionate about the safety of country patients.

“Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda and I wish to pass on our heartfelt thanks for the effort everyone put in over the three days. All our members looked, sounded and behaved like true professionals and made a compelling case for country patients,” he said. “Many rank-and-file conference delegates did express support for safer nursing levels throughout the state, but were overruled by the politicians, who have caved in to the Liberal Party premier, treasurer and health minister on the issue.

“You would think MPs of the National Party, whose slogan is ‘For Regional NSW’, would be fighting tooth and nail to get country hospitals treated equally with city hospitals.

“However only a few MPs gave the NSWNMA representative from their electorate a hearing and even they did not achieve anything effective at the conference on behalf of rural and regional nurses, midwives and patients.

“We will now intensify our campaign in the electorates held by the National Party.”