31 August 2022

South Coast nurses call for community support for strike action

| Sally Foy
Join the conversation
Eurobodalla nurses

Nurses are continuing their industrial action to change nurse-to-patient ratios. Photo: NSWNMA.

Eurobodalla nurses are urging the community to attend Thursday’s strike rally on the Batemans Bay foreshore in support of increased nurse-to-patient ratios.

“We can no longer sit back and watch our health system crumble, our communities deserve better,” NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association delegate Karen Johnstone said.

The fight to change nurse-to-patient ratios spans more than a decade.

“I’ve worked at Moruya Hospital since 1986, a very long time, and I have never seen the health system like this,” Ms Johnstone said.

“I just think that we owe it to the community to stand up and use our power to make the government listen, because what is happening right now is not fair on the patients and, it’s definitely not fair on us.”

Put simply, Ms Johnstone says the current system is broken, and nurses are simply not able to provide the care that they should be able to give to patients in NSW hospitals.

“It’s horrible to … not be able to provide the care that we should be,” she said.

“It’s a horrible feeling to leave a shift knowing that you haven’t done what you should be able to do.”

READ ALSO Eurobodalla hospital consultation claims untrue, advocates say

Nurses across the state are frustrated that their call for change continues to fall on deaf ears within the NSW Government.

“Ten years ago, we were marching down the street saying exactly the same thing,” she said.

“The government isn’t listening.”

Australian states, including Victoria, Queensland and most recently, South Australia, have already adopted changes to improve staff ratios.

“It’s happening in other states, and we just don’t understand why the NSW Government isn’t listening,” Ms Johnstone said.

Nurses and midwives fighting for these changes in NSW are battle weary, and they’re calling on locals to help boost morale at Thursday’s event.

“That’s what keeps us going,” Ms Johnstone said.

“When we feel like [the] community is behind us, it gives everybody that boost that they need.”

Diane Lang, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association president, will join the strike further down the coast in Bega on Thursday. Strike action there will be held at 10 am in Littleton Gardens, Zingel Place.

She wants people to understand the proposed changes are not financially driven.

“Pay is great, and we do deserve more pay, but ultimately this is a 10-year battle to improve the safety and the ability of the people in our community, to get the care they deserve when they walk through the hospital doors,” she said.

READ ALSO Flag falls on Wakefield Park but ‘this fight isn’t over’

“We are striking for our community … we want to improve the safety and quality of care that our community deserves.”

The association is calling for a one-nurse to three-patient ratio in all NSW emergency departments.

“Ultimately it would be one nurse to four patients on any ward in any hospital all across NSW,” Ms Lang said.

“If you’re in a multipurpose facility you still need to have some sort of safe staffing tools … every major acute hospital, every ward, [regardless of] your postcode, should be able to deliver one nurse to four patients. That way we can give everything we need to give to that person.”

Nurses across NSW are regularly asked to work 18-hour shifts, according to Ms Lang.

“It’s a practice not endorsed [by NSW Health] but accepted,” she said, “and it’s dangerous.”

Community members are asked to join the strike at Foreshore Park, Clyde Street, Batemans Bay on Thursday at 10 am.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

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.