NSW Nurses and Midwives Strike: An Explainer
Why is there a NSW Nurses and Midwives strike? How will the strike affect you?
NSW Nurses and Midwives will stop work on Tuesday June 28 for between 2 and 24hrs in ongoing industrial action. The recent NSW Government budget has done little to address the desperate needs of our health system and the workers who run it.
The below is taken from the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association press release dated June 22, which can be accessed here.
“Hundreds of nurses and midwives will stop work next week to take part in a mass meeting of NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) members, furious at the NSW government’s failure to address the urgent need for shift by shift staffing ratios.
Over 70 NSWNMA public sector branches have voted to stop work for various hours (from 2hrs to 24hrs) and participate in a mass meeting of members next Tuesday, 28 June. Branches that have voted for extended stop work periods demonstrate the widespread dissatisfaction with the NSW government’s budget, and a lack of confidence the announcements will improve patient safety.
A further 16 branches voted in support of the stop work action but due to severe staffing shortages and a commitment to life-preserving care are unable to participate.
A mass meeting will be held at Sydney Town Hall from 2pm and broadcast to a number of regional locations.
The NSWNMA has not ruled out further action in the lead up to the state election in March 2023.”
How will you be affected by the NSW nurses strike?
A NSW Health spokesperson is referenced in an ABC News Online article stating that ‘all health districts would have plans in place during the strikes to minimise disruption and ensure people in need of emergency care were looked after.’
NSWNMA members always prioritise the safety and care of their patients, which is why industrial action is so crucial. Without proper nurse to patient ratios the care of the community is at risk.
What are NSW Nurses and Midwives asking for?
NSWNMA Acting General Secretary, Shaye Candish has spoken to the need for long term staffing and workload changes, but the NSW Government is intent on throwing cash around and passing the buck.
“We need fundamental reform of our healthcare system. We need ratios, alongside transparent spending of taxpayer dollars to ensure NSW receives the right patient care, not more unaccountable cash being thrown about, without any guarantee of meaningful staffing solutions.
“Despite acknowledging widespread ‘aftershocks’ across the health system from the pandemic and current flu season, the government has ignored the need to address the extra extreme workloads nurses and midwives are juggling.”
“We asked for one extra nurse every evening and night shift in remote sites, and the government has said no to this request.”
NSWNMA Acting Assistant General Secretary, Michael Whaites points out that while the recent NSW Government budget includes some incentives for front line health staff, the proposed 3 per cent wage increase was still a serious pay cut for members in real terms.
“The ‘thank you’ payment does very little to recognise the sacrifices and moral injury our members endured throughout the pandemic, which we all know extends across the entire health system, not just public hospitals,” said Mr Whaites.
“But instead of listening to nurses and midwives, the clinicians on the ground who are best placed to outline the issues and solutions, the NSW government has ignored them and their calls for safe staffing ratios on every shift.”
“Given the workforce constraints being felt here and in other jurisdictions, it’s a woeful oversight by the Premier and his government to not consider phasing nurse-to-patient ratios into specialty areas on a shift by shift basis, where its own hospital data shows ratios are desperately needed.”
“Emergency departments, intensive care units, maternity, paediatrics, inpatient mental health, all of these areas and more have been significantly disrupted during the pandemic and chronic staffing shortages exposed, yet they’ve failed to attract a mention in this budget.”