‘Overworked’ nurses at breaking point

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Nurses and midwives have taken to the streets as part of a 24-hour strike to pressure the state government into taking their demands seriously for safer working conditions.

Thousands of nurses showed up in force at the Sydney march, brandishing signs that laid bare the dark reality of the NSW health system.

“More nurses = less hearses,” one sign read.

‘More nurses = less hearses’ one sign at the Sydney rally read. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift‘More nurses = less hearses’ one sign at the Sydney rally read. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftNurses and midwives strike for the fourth time this year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftNurses and midwives strike for the fourth time this year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftRallies began moving through cities on Wednesday morning. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftRallies began moving through cities on Wednesday morning. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

“Hospitals at code black, Nurses at code blue, Perrottet, where are you?,” read another.

NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) members have walked walk off the job from 7am on Wednesday after repeated calls for safe staffing, better working conditions and fair pay.

It is the fourth time in twelve months the union will strike, following two years of hard work due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

NSWNMA general secretary Shaye Candish said nurses had gone “above and beyond” to put patient care above their own basic needs.

“Shift after shift they have continued, burdened by short staffing and constant requests for overtime,” she said.

Nurses and midwives will join in on public rallies held around the state from Sydney to Albury and Broken Hill to Tweed Heads.

The union is calling for the state government to scrap the cap on public healthcare workers’ wages.

They are demanding the wage cap be scrapped and safer staffing ratios. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftThey are demanding the wage cap be scrapped and safer staffing ratios. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift‘It’s time for nurses to call the shots,’ read one sign. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift‘It’s time for nurses to call the shots,’ read one sign. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

“The evidence is clear that wage caps are hurting public sector workers’ livelihoods and their retirement savings, and it’s time for them to be abolished,” Ms Candish said.

All life-preserving services will be maintained in public hospitals and health services during the strike.

“Our members are angry and upset, knowing so many colleagues with years of clinical experience are moving to work interstate or choosing to leave the profession,” NSWNMA assistant general secretary Michael Whaites said.

Healthcare workers have had enough. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftHealthcare workers have had enough. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftCentral Coast nurses held signs that read, ‘Ratios: It’s a lifesaver’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftCentral Coast nurses held signs that read, ‘Ratios: It’s a lifesaver’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift

“Nurses and midwives have endured three years of a chaotic and disruptive pandemic, but they have been overworked and undervalued by this government for much longer.”

The NSWNMA will continue to meet with the NSW government to discuss members’ demands for safe staffing ratios and improved working conditions.

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