Bathurst nurses strike on Friday

In one of the most dramatic local confrontations between nurses and midwives and the State Government in decades, NSW Nurses & Midwives Association (NSWNMA) members at Bathurst Base Hospital will start a 24-hour strike at 7am Friday 29 November, to protest against the Western NSW Local Health District’s decision to close five beds in the hospital’s medical ward from December 9.

Update: News and photos from the community forum in the Western Advocate newspaper.

The historic decision to strike for 24 hours was taken in a secret ballot at a special NSWNMA Bathurst Hospital branch meeting, on Tuesday, 26 November.

Bathurst Base Hospital

Date: 29-30 November 2013

Start time: 7.00, Friday 29 November

Finish time: 7.00am Saturday 30 November

A strike line of striking nurses and midwives will be maintained outside the Bathurst Base Hospital for the duration (24 hours) of the strike.

NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, will be in Bathurst for the duration of the strike and will be at the strike line during the day and into the evening. (Mr Holmes will return to Bathurst on Monday to participate in the public meeting at Panthers Leagues Club on Monday evening.) 

A community-sponsored BBQ will be maintained during the strike, at the park on the corner of Mitre and Howick Streets, to feed and support the striking nurses and midwives and their supporters.

Night-duty staffing levels will be maintained to handle any emergencies and ensure no patient still in the hospital during the strike is at risk. 

NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes, said this is a major step for the Bathurst Base Hospital nurses and midwives, but they feel they have no choice after the dismissive responses they received from LHD management in the last few days.

“In fact, it is a historic step for Bathurst as nurse and midwife strikes such as this one are extremely rare. It is an indication of just how serious the ongoing uncertainty over Bathurst Hospital and community health services has become.

“The Bathurst nurses and midwives are furious with the inadequate responses they have received from the Western NSW Local Health District over the issue. At Tuesday’s branch meeting they also demanded the Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, appropriately fund the Bathurst Hospital to avoid service cuts and ‘enable the provision of safe patient care to the community’. But they’ve heard nothing.

“The NSWNMA is also concerned that other vital hospital and health services will be cut in the Bathurst region in the months ahead, as the State Government tries to save money in the local health budget at the expense of those services and the associated nursing and midwifery jobs.

“I am advised that the vast majority of the local people are also very concerned about the situation. The NSWNMA is receiving strong support, from all sections of the Bathurst community, for the nurses and midwives who have courageously taken this stand to protect affordable health services and good, secure jobs for health professionals in this important and growing NSW city and region.

“The NSWNMA expects a big turnout at Monday night’s public meeting. This meeting will discuss the community impact of proposed cuts at the Bathurst Base Hospital. I would again like to thank the Panthers Leagues Club for donating their venue for the meeting.

“Every resident of Bathurst and the surrounding region is encouraged to attend. They are also encouraged to come down to the hospital and support the nurses and midwives tomorrow. The people of Bathurst deserve answers and an explanation. The people of Bathurst also deserve to have a say and to be listened to by the Western NSW LHD and State Government,” Mr Holmes said.

Bathurst Hospital cuts – public meeting details

Date: Monday, 2 December 2013

Time: 6.00pm – 8.00pm

Venue: Panthers Leagues Club

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