Campbelltown Hospital nurses strike to fight for more staff

Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

Campbelltown Hospital nurses and midwives have taken strike action this afternoon to fight for more staff.

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) Macarthur region members decided to strike for two hours from 3.30pm to raise awareness about staff shortages at the hospital.

Nurses and midwives also walked off the job at Liverpool Hospital, frustrated their ongoing calls for safe staffing have been ignored by the NSW government.

An association spokeswoman said the Campbelltown Hospital staff chose to strike as safe staffing levels remained a significant concern.

"They are concerned about excessive overtime and the lack of clinical support staff," she said.

"Clinical support staff help the less experienced nurses on the floor."

There are also major concerns about staffing in the maternity unit and like for like replacement when a nurse calls in sick.

"For example, if an RN calls in sick, they may be replaced with someone less qualified to fill the role."

Striking nurses marched along the footpaths outside the hospital with signs and flags despite the wet weather.

Braving wet weather, around 200 Liverpool Hospital branch members walked out for four hours, striking from 3.30pm until 7.30pm.

Campbelltown Hospital nurse and NSWNMA union delegate Amber Jones said nurses were 'fed up'.

"We are burnt out; there is one nurse doing the work of three," she said.

"I have been at Campbelltown Hospital for six ears in two different wards and it has been the same in that time."

Picture: Supplied

Picture: Supplied

Ms Jones said nursing ratios were needed to provide better patient care.

"We need 1:3 (one nurse to three patients) in ED (emergency department) and 1:4 (one nurse to four patients) on all other medical and surgical wards," she said.

"We need ratios to provide the holistic and therapeutic care that we have been taught, and that we want, to provide.

"We are also asking that AIN and team leaders are not counted in those ratios - that they are just extra staff."

Ms Jones said nurses across NSW were calling for the same thing.

"Just looking at comments online it seems like the situation is worse in some country areas - a sick person is a sick person, no matter where they are," she said.

"Care should be balanced.

"We are nurses, we don't want to walk out on our patients, we don't want to leave them in a strange place while they aren't feeling well - but we also did not get into nursing to do the work of three people.

"We don't want to feel burnt out after just two years on the job. The government takes and takes from us without compensation."

Ms Jones said further industrial action may occur if the association could not reach an agreement with the NSW Government.

"I think this is a good stepping stone but if the government don't step up and make some changes now, we may have to take further action," she said.

"If you have relatives at hospital, or you are a visitor, or patient and you receive a survey about your care please support us.

"Let them know how hard your nurse was working.

"Show us some support."

NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes said today's snap actions were a sign of the widespread desperate situation nurses and midwives are experiencing.

"Our members never take strike action lightly, in fact, most will have never experienced it in their working lives," said Mr Holmes.

"The examples they have shared of near misses and poor outcomes for patients are truly shocking. They are working beyond what should be expected of any professional nurse or midwife.

"Members have described critical staffing shortages across their emergency departments, intensive care units, mental health units and maternity services. These nurses and midwives are at breaking point.

"We need mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in our hospitals, just like they have in Queensland and Victoria. The NSW government's current preferred staffing model is outdated, unsafe and frequently fails to deliver the right number of nurses needed on every shift."