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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Belmont, Waratah nurses strike over pay, staffing levels

Nurses and midwives from two Hunter facilities took industrial action today, voting to stop work or close beds.

They joined hundreds of colleagues across six hospitals and a mental health centre throughout the state on Wednesday 2 June after members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) expressed their frustration at the NSW Government’s refusal to improve staffing by implementing shift-by-shift ratios.

The action took place at Belmont Hospital (24 hours) and the Mental Health Centre at Waratah (24 hours), as well as Shoalhaven Hospital (4 hours) on the south coast.

Staff at Bowral Hospital in the Southern Highlands also walked off the job for two hours.

Blue Mountains District Hospital stopped work for one hour and closed beds to match available staffing levels, as did Springwood Hospital.

NSWNMA members voted to close five ambulance bay beds for four hours at John Hunter Hospital, too.

General secretary Brett Holmes said branches didn’t take the decision for industrial action lightly and all hospitals remained open to the public, with life-preserving staffing levels.

“Our members are exhausted and tired of feeling taken for granted,” he explained.

“This past year has exacerbated ongoing staffing issues and taken a heavy toll on many nurses and midwives.

“Today’s actions indicate just how fed-up nurses and midwives are with the current staffing shortfalls.

“They are constantly dealing with excessive overtime and unreasonable workloads.

“Many fear patient safety is regularly being compromised due to chronic understaffing.

“There’s less time for clinical guidance and vacancies are left unfilled for too long.

“The NSW Government knows we’ve got a staffing crisis in our hospitals and is putting lives at risk by neglecting to adopt shift-by-shift ratios.”

Earlier this week, NSWNMA members rejected the NSW Government’s insulting 1.04% pay offer.

Wallsend state MP Sonia Hornery also threw her support behind the Hunter’s overworked nurses and midwives, stating the latest proposal was “a slap in the face to them”.

“My electorate is home to both the John Hunter Hospital and the Calvary Mater and are an important part of our local community,” she said.

“Nurses have been the unsung heroes of our pandemic response.

“But, they are also the everyday heroes who take care of us when we’re sick and are the key to functioning hospitals.

“I have met and spoken with nurses locally and support their campaign for fair wages and stronger staffing ratios.”

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