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Issue #1604      July 31, 2013

Nurses and midwives vow to continue ratios campaign

Almost 5,000 nurses and midwives met at Sydney Olympic Park and 17 regional webcast venues ton July 24 in a defiant strike protest at the NSW government’s refusal to negotiate improvements to the successful nursing hours/ratios system.

Many more nurses and midwives also struck in remote towns, with local rallies and activities in support of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) claim. Almost 3,000 members rallied at Sydney Olympic Park and the meeting was streamed live to 2,000 members at regional webcast venues.

Over 180 NSWNMA Branches voted to take the strike action. Callers to radio stations across NSW are supporting nurses’ last resort strike to highlight the need for improved patient safety through nurse to patient ratios.

The Special General Meeting of Members decided to escalate the community and workplace actions. The first step includes reaching a goal of 100,000 signatures on the current Ratios Put Patient Safety First petition by mid-September.

The unions says NSWNMA membership surveys have consistently shaown that improving the ratios system to put patients first is their number one priority. A pay rise capped by the government and made without any proper negotiation will not deter members from advocating for patients and their profession.

Nurses and midwives have spoken for safe patient care and will not stop.

This Special General Meeting resolves that: Public health system nurses and midwives will escalate their community and workplace campaign to convince the NSW government that the nursing hours/ratios system should be extended to more clinical areas, and improved to guarantee the same minimum nursing levels in all hospitals in NSW.

Our campaign will continue with activities including: continued pressure on our MPs; building local community, professional and public sector advocacy coalitions; bed closures and service restrictions where needed to ensure safe patient care; and standing together to uphold the correct implementation and maintenance of ratios in wards/units where they currently exist.

The NSW government can prove its support for patients by giving NSWNMA an acceptable offer to improve and extend the Award-based nursing hours/ratios system. Anything less is a sign that the government is out of touch with the people of NSW who rely on a safe level of care in their Public Health System.

We commit to continuing to advocate for our profession and our patients through our community and workplace campaign.

We will do this until we have extended the system to more nursing specialties like paediatrics, emergency departments, community, critical care and additional areas of mental health care.

We will do this until we have improved the ratios system to fix problems with patient specials and the ‘midnight census’ calculation...

We will do this until we have extended the ratios system so that patients have the same level of nursing care no matter what their hospital size or postcode ...

Each of us here today commit to continuing our involvement in activities and building community support. Our next step will include working with our Branches to collect 100,000 petition signatures for presentation for an action on 17 September.  

Next article – New survey exposes the state of Victorian TAFEs

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