The Hunter’s nurses and midwives walked off the job in protest today.
Clad in their scrubs, hundreds gathered at Newcastle’s Civic Park for a rally where they made their demands to the NSW Government clear.
A 1:4 staff ratio, 7% pay rise and the inclusion of babies in maternity ward patient numbers make up the top priorities for members of the local branches of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association.
Under the current arrangements, newborn babies are excluded from patient numbers with no extra staff dedicated to care for them.
Jessica Plater, a local midwife said at the Civic Park rally that her daily patient load might be double the official figure if the babies were actually taken into account.
“On any given day a midwife can have between four to eight women in their care and that does not include our babies, when you start to include them our patient load can be anywhere from eight to sixteen,” she said.
“Our babies need our support, they need us to do their obs, do their sugars, help them to learn to feed but this government doesn’t understand that.”
On top of the hidden workload, many nurses and midwives are also experiencing a shift in the complexity of the pregnancies they are working with, leading to longer and more involved post-natal care in the wards.
“How can we provide our patients with the necessary care, education and support if the government and healthcare system won’t support the midwives,” Jessica said.
Burn out was a common thread among those who spoke in Newcastle this morning, with short staffing, excessive workloads and overtime becoming almost daily occurrences as the state’s strained health system is stretched thin.
According to the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association the state’s Premier Dominic Perrottet and Health Minister Brad Hazzard have both admitted the problems exist but have failed to act.
Speaking in Newcastle today, Kim Plaizier, a Registered Nurse with more than 14 years experience said the current conditions were not safe for anyone.
“We are here today to say our patients and community deserve better, we’re also here today to say our profession deserves better,” she said.
“We don’t work for thanks, this is our profession and this is our livelihood.”
The same sentiments were echoed during rallies at Tomaree, Muswellbrook and Morisset as thousands of nurses and midwives united statewide to spur changes which could ultimately save lives.
They will return to their posts tomorrow, until then facilities in the Hunter New England Health District will be running with minimum staff, but life preserving services are being maintained at all local hospitals.