Why are NSW nurses and midwives on strike?

Why is there a NSW Nurses and Midwives strike? How will the strike affect you?


23 June 2022

Why are NSW nurses and midwives on strike?

NSW Nurses and Midwives will stop work on Wednesday 23 November 22 for between 2 and 24hrs in ongoing industrial action. The NSW Government 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, which can be accessed here.

Nurses and Midwives General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said nurses and midwives could no longer put up with the dangerous staffing levels and unsustainable workloads.

“Our members are angry, and they’re fed up with being ignored. We indicated to the NSW government earlier this year that we needed an open and meaningful dialogue with them about safe staffing,” said Ms Candish.

“We still don’t have mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in our public hospitals or health facilities and this is putting patients at risk. The NSW government is ignoring what’s desperately needed to ensure patients are getting the best possible care in their local hospitals.

“Our members are frustrated more than anything else because their concerns for patient safety have not been heard, and their professional perspectives and pleas for short and longer-term safe staffing solutions are not being acknowledged.

How will you be affected by the NSW nurses strike?

A NSW Health stated 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.”