Nurses and midwives reject pay offer and poor staffing

For the first time in eight years, a resounding majority of public sector nurses and midwives have voted not to accept the NSW government’s pay offer and lack of shift-by-shift ratios.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) conveyed the decision to NSW Health officials this morning, after its branches unanimously dismissed the 1.04% pay offer as ‘pitiful’ and ‘insulting’.

NSWNMA members were furious the government had ignored their comprehensive claim for safe staffing using nurse-to-patient ratios and said the pay offer fell well short of the 4.7% increase sought by the union earlier in the year.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said members felt the government’s offer showed a ‘complete disregard’ for all they do around the clock, let alone during the pandemic, to keep essential health services running and communities safe.

“The number one priority of our members has always been to maintain safe patient care and deliver the best possible health outcomes. What more do they have to do in order for their voices to be heard by this government?” said Mr Holmes.

“This offer simply isn’t good enough. Nurses and midwives across the state have done so much this past year. Understandably, they feel more than taken for granted. They’re deeply insulted.

“To not consider any improvements to their working conditions or discuss measures that would increase patient safety inside our public hospitals and health facilities is quite frankly, reckless.

“We are willing to sit across the table and will continue to outline the overwhelming evidence from Queensland and Victoria, following their successful introduction of legislated nurse-to-patient ratios since 2016 and 2015 respectively.

“What is the NSW government so afraid of? Our public health system is bursting at the seams and increased pressure is being piled onto health workers year after year.

“The government knows we’ve got a staffing crisis in our hospitals and the failure to adopt shift-by-shift ratios is leading more nurses and midwives to leave these professions.

“Seeking safe staffing through shift-by-shift ratios and fair pay is not excessive. It’s what NSW needs and would help the workforce feel much more valued than it currently does.”

The NSWNMA confirmed it was continuing to canvass all options available in response to current negotiations with NSW Health.

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