Business / Community / News / 17th February 2022
"Stop telling us to cope!"
A group of Coonabarabran nurses joined the state-wide strike action on Tuesday morning, 15 February.
The small, but vocal contingent was standing strong with the union, in calling for stricter nurse- to-patient ratios and a 2.5 per cent increase in pay following recent unsuccessful negotiations.
The big message from the hour-long walk out (longer in other areas) was that nursing staff were simply not coping with the current working conditions.
One attendee, who wished to remain anonymous, said there were nurses in other small country hospitals that supported the industrial action, but who physically could not join the strike because of the severe lack of staff.
“That’s where we are at with this; there are some places that are so short staffed that no one could attend the strike, however, they fully supported it,” they said.
“We’re simply not coping.”
On Tuesday, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) said staff burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic and being fed up with the NSW Government’s refusal to prioritise safe staffing in public hospitals and health services is what led to the action.
Union members from 14 branches across Western NSW Local Health District took part in the strike and called on the NSW Premier to implement shift-by-shift nursing and midwifery staffing for safe patient care.
NSWNMA general secretary, Brett Holmes said members were sick of the Government ignoring their pleas for safer staffing levels.
“Our members have signalled how fed up they are with the NSW Government for continuing to ignore the need for nurse-to-patient ratios on every shift, similar to those already working successfully in Queensland and Victoria,” Mr Holmes said.
“The staffing crisis in health won’t simply go away on its own. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the failings of our health system.
“What we’re asking for is not unreasonable. Nurse- to-patient ratios do save lives and result in better patient outcomes.”
Coonabarabran paramedics also showed their support, turning up in solidarity with those in attendance.
The strike action across 150 public hospitals and health services was staggered across the morning, with nurses and midwives walking off the job for up to 24 hours at over a dozen facilities.