Frustrated and fatigued, nurses and midwives have declared they will continue their fight for safe staffing ratios across NSW, voting in favour of sustained and escalating industrial action until excessive workloads and widespread burnout is addressed, and better pay achieved.
Thousands of NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) members joined a Special General Meeting to openly discuss their current wages and conditions, health announcements in the state budget, and the NSW government’s ongoing refusal to introduce shift by shift ratios.
Addressing the meeting NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, acknowledged the anger and dissatisfaction members had expressed towards the NSW government over its lack of genuine support for the nursing and midwifery workforce.
“Our members have spoken, and they are extremely upset with this government. They are frustrated by the government’s abhorrent treatment of their female-dominated professions, and for ignoring their pleas for safe staffing ratios to be introduced,” said Mr Holmes.
“During every opportunity to meet with the government, we’ve outlined how our members all want to be working in a health system that actually delivers the best possible patient care that all communities rightly deserve. It is not unreasonable to seek safe and transparent minimum staffing.
“I’ve certainly not heard workplace stories as harrowing as what we are constantly hearing now, and the longer this government refuses to sit down and discuss a meaningful path forward, more nurses and midwives will continue to leave our state, or leave their professions all together.”
NSWNMA Acting Assistant General Secretary, Michael Whaites, said the members were loud and clear about their desire to continue the fight until systemic workload and work health and safety issues were resolved.
“Our members are exhausted. The moral injury they have described is real and very raw. They are deeply troubled by the government’s constant dismissal of their concerns,” said Mr Whaites.
“Nurses and midwives do not have anywhere near enough resources now to deliver the care patients need, let alone enough clinical educators to support and supervise the nurses and midwives of tomorrow.
“The government’s announcement on additional staffing numbers are questionable. We’ve been advised that 2,700 nurses and 165 midwives may be added to the health system, but 1,026 of these were from the 2019 election commitment that’s still to be delivered. Most concerningly, we understand this allocation represents years one through to three of the government’s latest announcement. We are far from convinced that these numbers are what is needed for safe patient care in NSW.
“Our members want assurances that improvements to their excessive workloads will be achieved and they want safe staffing ratios on every shift, in every ward, in every hospital and every community healthcare setting. They need staffing numbers that are transparent and accountable when they show up for their shifts day and night.
“We stand with our members and we’ll continue advocating for safe staffing ratios for as long as it takes.”
During the Special General Meeting, members called on the NSWNMA to pursue a pay increase of 7 per cent in light of their extreme working conditions and inflation.
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