NSW Nurses and Midwife Association members disputed NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s claim the government has delivered 4000 extra nurses and midwives since being elected in 2011.
Yesterday, more than 100 nurses and midwives from across the region walked off the job for two hours to protest minimum staffing levels in emergency departments, intensive care units, community health services and small hospitals.
Riverina registered nurse Sylvia Moon said the stopwork meeting was designed to draw attention to the plight of nurses, especially in regional hospitals, which saw staff take on several roles.
“Change is crucial ... nurses are working as administrators, cleaners, counsellors (when dealing with distressed family members) and this is all in one shift,” she said.
“It puts huge pressures on nursing teams and it creates associated problems; distressed families in hospitals need to be calmed, patients have time-sensitive medications, phones need to be answered.”
Ms Skinner issued a press release prior to the 11.30am stopwork meeting, saying the government had “met and exceeded our promise to increase frontline nursing staff”, giving the figure of 4000 professionals.
NSW Nurses and Midwife Association Riverina president, Jodie Godfrey, said the union was still waiting on the government to release the numbers.
“Whenever I hear this I think, well where are they?” Ms Godfrey said.
“The government has shown it has recruited 2000 nurses, but won’t release numbers to substantiate 4000.”
Ms Skinner said the government supported a 2.5 per cent wage increase – keeping in line with other public sector employees – which would be backdated to July 1.
“The government always wants to make this about money – it has nothing to do with money,” Ms Godfrey said.