Hundreds of nurses and midwives have walked off the job at two Central Coast hospitals, while others rallied in their own time outside a third, calling on the NSW government to prioritise safe staffing and introduce nurse-to-patient ratios.
NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) members at Long Jetty Continuing Care in Toukley voted to stop work for two hours, while Wyong Hospital branch members also voted to strike for two hours and walked out en masse.
In addition, Central Coast Mental Health branch members, who work in the community and at Wyong Hospital, also voted unanimously to strike for two hours. Meanwhile, nurses and midwives gathered outside Gosford Hospital at lunchtime to highlight their staffing concerns.
Widespread understaffing, regular overtime and less time available to properly care for patients were among the issues that prompted today’s snap actions. All sites called for nurse-to-patient ratios.
NSWNMA Councillor and Long Jetty Continuing Care branch delegate, Michelle Cashman, said the situation was desperate and required urgent attention from the NSW government.
“It didn’t have to come to this, but it has because the government is refusing to listen to us or negotiate with us about bringing in nurse-to-patient ratios. The government’s preferred staffing model is outdated and often fails to ensure we’ve got the number of nurses we need on each shift,” said Ms Cashman.
NSWNMA Wyong Hospital branch president, Kelly Falconer, said staff at Wyong had to work beyond what should be expected of any professional nurse or midwife.
“Too many nurses and midwives are now at breaking point because of the state our health system is now in. We need mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in our hospitals, just like they have in Queensland and Victoria. They cannot keep working us into the ground like this, it’s not fair to our patients or our communities,” said Ms Falconer.
NSWNMA Central Coast Mental Health branch secretary, Graeme Miller, said unsafe, inadequate and unsustainable staffing had led to increased workloads for mental health nurses.
“We haven’t got the ratios we need and it’s not good enough. We need shift-by-shift ratios to deliver safe care and the best possible outcomes for our patients and clients,” said Mr Miller.
To date, the NSW government has refused to negotiate with the NSWNMA on introducing nurse-to-patient ratios.