The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has again called on the NSW Government to abandon its public sector wage freeze, following the release of hospital data depicting the unwavering work value of nurses and midwives.
The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) report released today shows nurses and midwives were grappling with the impact of bushfires in January, before the COVID-19 pandemic required an unprecedented response, as they continued care for the regular flow of emergency patients.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the NSW Government must recognise the risk nurses and midwives take each shift to keep communities safe and deliver care, and reiterated calls to scrap the wage freeze.
“The government should not be forcing its wage freeze through the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, blatantly ignoring the productivity of nurses and midwives across the state,” said Mr Holmes.
“The government’s own hospital data shows activity was up during January to March this year, compared to the same period in 2019, yet the government insists nurses and midwives must do more for less.
“Rather than recognising the role nurses and midwives played to shift our health system into emergency response mode for the pandemic, they want to punish them financially with a real wage cut. It’s no wonder nurses and midwives feel unsupported and undervalued.
“Today’s BHI data also shows the extraordinary response of health workers who faced the COVID-19 peak, including an unprecedented 115,894 screening tests being conducted by the end of March.
“After non-urgent elective surgery was suspended from 26 March, efforts are now being made to increase activity quickly to address the massive waitlist backlog, yet again increasing pressure on the workforce to meet demand.
“The government promised 5,000 extra nurses and midwives at the last election, but instead of delivering this commitment they are now threatening to sack nurses. It’s bad policy and doesn’t make economic sense.
“Nurses, midwives and other public sector workers spend their wages in their local communities. The government should not be threatening job losses to justify its wage freeze and it must stop ignoring the fact that the 2.5% pay increase was initially determined as an economic stimulus.”
The NSWNMA is pursuing a case in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission for nurses and midwives to receive their 2.5% pay increase from 1 July.
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