Muswellbrook nurses joined state-wide strike action on Wednesday, fighting for increased nurse staffing levels, higher nurse-to-patient ratios and better pay.
Fifteen nurses travelled to Sydney, joining with counterparts from more than 70 hospitals and health workplaces across the state.
The government has offered nurses a 2.5 per cent pay increase, however NSW Nurses and Midvives Association (NSWNMA) Muswellbrook branch secretary Adrian King said the offer overlooked crucial elements of what nurses were asking for.
The NSWNMA says to deliver safer patient care the government must improve and enforce minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, increasing ratios in all NSW hospital to the same level as Group A city hospitals, which operate on a one-nurse-to-four-patients (1:4) ratio.
“They think if they offer nurses a small pay rise, we’ll stop talking about patient safety,” Mr King said.
“But this isn’t about money; it’s about patient safety - that’s our focus.
“Of course we have to pay our bills, like everyone else, but this two-tiered system is a real concern.
“People pay the same taxes in the country as they do in the city, so why should people accept a different level of care?”
Nurses aren’t making public whether they have future strike plans, however Mr King said the campaign would continue.
“We won’t be stopping, we will continue to hassle our local member, the health minister and the premier,” he said.
“We will also be engaging the public to show their support and write letters, because politicians listen to votes and voters.
“We’ll be keeping the pressure on until the next state election and letting people know that this government has done nothing for hospitals and patient safety.”
Nurses are also asking for 2.5 per cent pay increases in July 2013 and 2014 and for ratios to be introduced in paediatric and neonatal intensive care units.