Private sector nurses and midwives to continue ratios fight

“Exhausted”, “struggling to cope”, “let down”, “dangerous” and “overwhelmed” is how nurses have described working conditions at the prestigious St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Darlinghurst and Mater Private Hospital in North Sydney.

For the second time since December, members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) walked off the job at St Vincent’s Private Hospital this afternoon and held a community rally, supported by patients and medical staff.

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Michael Whaites, said members were fed up being overworked and feeling undervalued by group employer, St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA).

“Yesterday, nurses and midwives took four hours protected industrial action at Mater Private Hospital and told stories of working 56 hours of overtime – this is simply unsafe,” said Mr Whaites.

“Today, nurses at St Vincent’s Private Hospital also called on SVHA to negotiate on better working conditions and a fair pay offer that acknowledges their work value and cost of living pressures.”

NSWNMA St Vincent’s Private Hospital Branch Secretary, Kate Westwood, called on SVHA executives to look after nurses, the heart and soul of the hospitals.

“You need to look after us so that we can do our jobs properly, so we can provide the quality and safe care that our patients deserve. We are asking you to take our claim serious and act. No more talkfests, we want you to act,” said Ms Westwood.

NSWNMA St Vincent’s Private Hospital Branch Delegate, Grainne Mahoney, said nurses were fed up being run off their feet, trying to care for up to 10 patients each.

“We’re working in extreme conditions with high dependency patients, high acuity patients and high turnover. Enough is enough. We are exhausted,” said Ms Mahoney.

NSWNMA St Vincent’s Private Hospital Branch member, Melissa Bancroft Crookes, told the Green Park crowd safe ratios were paramount and desperately needed.

“For years, a wedge has been driven by CEOs of the hospital between the wards and theatres. But today I stand here to let Chris Blake know that theatres have had enough. They are tired and theatres stand with the wards. We stand together. We stand united!” said Ms Bancroft Crookes.

The NSWNMA confirmed members were committed to continuing their community campaign to highlight the issues, and further bargaining talks with SVHA were scheduled to be held next week.

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