Fighting for the rights of our patients
This historic strike throughout the state showcased our unity and strength but it also revealed the breadth of support we have in the community and in the media.
February 15, 2022 will go down as a significant day in the history of our union.
Nurses and midwives took part in 48 demonstrations across NSW during our first statewide nurses and midwives’ strike since 2013. About 150 hospital and community health branches took strike action.
There was much to savour from the day not least the determination of nurses and midwives to stand up for our patients, our public health service and our profession.
Your passion, creativity and strength came through in spades and it was inspiring.
It was also a warning shot to a NSW government that has hardly covered itself in glory as COVID has wreaked havoc on an unprepared and vulnerable public health system, for which it is responsible.
What the day also made clear is that the government is misinformed and isolated from the real world that nurses and midwives experience in our public health system. They either do not listen to the frank and fearless advice of their public servant leaders or they all fear the consequences of accountability and transparency that shift-by-shift nurse and midwife ratios would deliver.
We have highlighted time and time again, going back many, many years, the staffing shortfalls, the lack of resources and the vulnerability and fragility of the system that puts patients lives at risk.
What February 15 revealed with absolute clarity is that the community and the media understand what we have been saying, COVID having exposed the weaknesses in the system and the government patently incapable of rising to the challenge posed by the pandemic.
The NSW Minister of Health continues to trot out the same tired old lines about the disproportionate share of the state budget taken by health and the burden shouldered by taxpayers.
He should reflect, as should the Premier and the NSW Treasury on the economic carnage caused by a pandemic for which we were unprepared and how the public was left vulnerable by a public health system that has been neglected and allowed to run down.
They should also reflect on the fact that other states like Queensland and Victoria have listened to the economic science as well as the health science that has empirically shown that ratios not only improve care but they are also cost effective.
COVID has shown that the economic costs of doing nothing are massive compared to the costs of doing the right thing.
We are going to keep fighting for ratios because we have no choice. It is our professional responsibility. And I am 100 per cent certain you are up for this fight.
Let’s make the federal election a referendum on aged care
Along with this issue of The Lamp you will find a supplement on the federal election which is expected to be held in May.
This election will be a decisive moment for aged care. It goes without saying that things must change.
The terrifying stories that have flowed out of the sector over the two-plus years of COVID have been heart-rending.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care didn’t mince its words when it delivered both its interim and final report on the state of the sector.
The interim report was titled: “Aged Care in Australia – A Shocking Tale of Neglect. The final report: Care, Dignity, Respect.
The commission identified staffing as the key issue if the problems of the sector were to be resolved. It agreed with us that ratios were central to the solution.
We want this federal election to be a referendum on aged care. We want to see accountability and a fresh start for the sector. Our older citizens deserve no less.