Hospital-wide support for maternity staff
Members across all services strongly supported the stand taken by Blacktown maternity unit staff.
Blacktown Hospital branch president Katie Conciatore said the deaths of newborns had affected all parts of the hospital.
“Obviously, dealing with death in a hospital is a part of the job,” she said.
“However, when it’s in an area that doesn’t see death often, you wouldn’t find many unaffected by that and looking to do something to improve the situation.
“People are happy to support each other because we have been having these same fights over staffing across different departments for years and got nowhere.
“Everyone is over being short-staffed and under-resourced.
“The infant deaths just capped it off – particularly because staff in maternity services have been warning management about this for years.
Many nurses from areas such as theatres, emergency, surgical and aged care attended the branch meeting and supported us, Katie said.
“After the vote, in the time it took me to walk over to the hospital executive to hand them the resolution and notice that we were walking, the crowd of nurses and midwives in Hospital Street was probably double the number I expected,” she said.
“Some of them came with signs such as ‘Aged Care Nurses Support Midwives’.
“They didn’t stand to immediately benefit from showing solidarity. Everyone was saying, it’s the midwives now but we are next.”
Stewards’ vital role
Blacktown branch laid the groundwork for cross-hospital solidarity by building a network of stewards in all services.
The branch has 20 stewards across the hospital, including a number in maternity services at the time of the action.
“Each time we have issues affecting a particular service – ICU, ED, surgical ward, aged care ward – we can alert stewards across the hospital,” Katie said.
“They can quickly share info to members and go around their units to talk to people.
“This allows us to get people to a meeting quickly. The meeting was called in the morning and held with a huge attendance in the afternoon.”