Regional nurses have their say
Nurses in country NSW will tell city-based decision makers how their local health services can be improved.
The NSWNMA will help members in rural and regional NSW tell a parliamentary inquiry about their local health services.
The inquiry will investigate the condition of rural and regional healthcare, including barriers to services, staffing challenges, capital expenditure, planning systems and the gap in health outcomes depending on postcode across NSW.
The NSWNMA will make a submission to the inquiry and has asked members to provide their experiences and views.
“Tell us about the challenges you and your colleagues face. Your stories will help inform our submission,” said a union flyer distributed to members.
“Are there enough staff? Do you have access to quality health services? What are the wait times like? Do services accommodate for indigenous or culturally and linguistically diverse communities? Is enough money being spent improving access to health services?”
Problems facing non-metropolitan nurses can include shortages of both GPs and nursing staff, replacement of local GPs with remote video calls, no security services and police off duty late at night.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, urged the Berejiklian government to fast-track the allocation of extra nurses and midwives across the state.
“The government must prioritise the roll-out of additional nurses and midwives it promised, instead of waiting until weeks out from the next state election in 2023,” he said.
“Our regional communities have faced ongoing battles with drought, severe water shortages, catastrophic bushfires and now further economic downturn thanks to COVID-19. They deserve access to the best health care possible, regardless of where they choose to live
“For years, we’ve been calling for increased nurse-to-patient ratios across all public hospitals in NSW to improve safety and promote better patient outcomes, but the government continues to refuse to commit to mandatory minimum staffing.”
Across NSW, thriving hospitals that were the largest employers in rural towns have lost vital services such as maternity and operating theatres.
While obesity, Type 2 diabetes and suicide are on the increase, diabetes services no longer exist at many sites, and community and mental health services have been scaled back.
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Health, Ryan Park, told Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes he wants all sides of politics to join forces to fix rural healthcare.
“We’ve got a system that is really, really sick when it’s beyond the major cities,” Park said.
“This is Australia in 2020; we should pride ourselves on having universal access to healthcare. At the moment, a postcode is determining the level of access to healthcare you get and that’s simply not right.”