30 March 2022

Batemans Bay rally: Exhausted southern region nurses to walk out for second time in six weeks

| Katrina Condie
Start the conversation
Eurobodalla nurses

Eurobodalla nurses ready to rally for better conditions and improved staff ratios at Batemans Bay. Photo: NSWNMA.

Nurses and midwives from the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley and Snowy Monaro regions will walk off the job and converge on Batemans Bay tomorrow (Thursday 31 March) as part of a state-wide plea for improved nurse-to-patient ratios.

Following a rally held in Bega on 15 February, the south coast contingent will join nurses from around 160 branches of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) who are taking strike action for the second time in six weeks.

The protest will be held at the Foreshore Park in Clyde Street, Batemans Bay from 10 am on Thursday 31 March.

NSWNMA organiser Pippa Watts said while the nursing crisis is across the board, rural and regional health facilities, including those in the southeast of the state, “play second fiddle to their metro cousins”.

Batemans Bay was chosen as a prominent location for the regional rally and march, with nurses, midwives and community and mental health workers busing in from as far as Bega for the event. Rallies will also be held at Goulburn and Cooma Hospitals.

Ms Watts expects a good turn-out of community supporters, given the recent ongoing calls for increased staffing at the proposed Eurobodalla Regional Hospital.

“The plans for the new hospital are all a bit mysterious; no one really knows what’s happening,” she said.

“The best outcome for the Eurobodalla region would be the implementation of nurse-to-patient ratios at the new facility.

“What we want to see in all hospitals, no matter how big or small, is improved staff-to-patient ratios. That’s why we’re all coming together and bringing branches together from far and wide to make more noise and make our voices heard so we can’t be ignored by the State Government anymore.”

Ms Watts said there would be speeches by health unit representatives from across the southeast region, followed by a short march around the block. Community supporters are invited to join in.

READ ALSO Strike at Queanbeyan and Karabar schools a ‘very disappointing’ disruption says Education Minister

ONE Eurobodalla Hospital advocate Fitzroy Boulting said after “years of faltering negotiations, the stress has simply become too overwhelming to ignore or to remain silent about” and he is encouraging Eurobodalla residents to stand with the nurses.

“A pretty colourful, energetic and significant event is in the offering,” he said.

“Let’s help to make it an unforgettable day for our wonderful frontline nurses by showing them how much we care for and about them.”

State Member for Bega and long-time Eurobodalla hospital advocate Dr Michael Holland will not be attending the local protest. However he will join the rally in Sydney.

The newly-elected representative and former obstetrician and gynaecologist with the Southern NSW Local Health District has worked alongside nurses for 40 years and said the state’s health and hospital system is “at breaking point”.

“We have a hospital system in New South Wales that is overstretched, under-resourced and understaffed,” he said.

“That’s not the fault of our frontline health workers, it’s the fault of our Premier who put ideology before evidence and it’s time he starts to listen to the health experts and get this right.”

Dr Holland said he has shared and witnessed the experiences of his nursing and midwifery colleagues who have gone “above and beyond” during the COVID Pandemic; however he claims “the problems have predated the COVID pandemic for years”.

“The NSW Premier says repeatedly that we need to push through this crisis but at the moment our frontline workers, particularly nurses and midwives feel like they’re being pushed over by the NSW Government.

“Our hospital system is being absolutely stretched to the limit, they’re under significant pressure and significant stress.

READ ALSO Protesters told Eurobodalla hospital funding announcement doesn’t go far enough

“It is essential that the government negotiates with our nurses and midwives to improve the safety of our patients, which is paramount and also to ensure the conditions for the welfare of our nurses and midwives.”

Dr Holland said, when completed, the new Eurobodalla hospital “needs to open with level 4 services which can only be achieved by the maintenance, retention and recruitment of nursing and midwifery professionals”.

While there will be fewer staff manning local hospitals, Ms Watts has assured the community that “life-preserving staffing” will be maintained during the rally.

“If people have an emergency there’s no reason they shouldn’t go to their hospital as normal,” she said.

“It may take longer but they will get seen and be given the care they require.”

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.