• Rikki Lambert

NSW nurses, midwives strike on Thursday

Nurses protested in Sydney in February

Nurses across NSW plan to walk off the job for 24 hours, calling for extra staff as NSW independent MP Helen Dalton encourages the strike action over conditions at Griffith Base Hospital.

Mrs Dalton warned that if midwifery services closed at Griffith, more pressure would be placed on Wagga Wagga's hospital.

"I've talked some of the many midwives who have resigned from Griffith Base Hospital, and it's heartbreaking how they've badly they've been treated by Murrumbidgee Local Health District.
"We are so fortunate to have nurses and midwives move to Griffith - we need to do what we can to make them feel welcome and provide them with good pay and conditions so they stay.
"But they're provided with shoddy accommodation, forced to work long hours without overtime pay and subjected to threats and bullying from senior management.
"It's no wonder Griffith Base Hospital has a faster staff turnover than McDonalds.

Hear the interview with Helen Dalton MP on the Flow podcast player below:

Nurses across NSW are set to take industrial action in support of their demand to boost workforce numbers and secure better pay.

Thursday's strike comes a month after the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association voted in favour of historic statewide action, which subsequently saw demonstrations at 150 public hospitals. Association General Secretary Brett Holmes told AAP:

"Patients play lotto depending which day they go to hospital. They (patients) could get lucky and get a properly staffed shift or they could get unlucky. So our members ... want to see a better health system that will guarantee that there are enough nurses ... to look after patients."

Nurses are seeking a nurse-to-patient ratio of one-to-four, and a pay increase above the 2.5 per cent prescribed by the government.

Mr Holmes claimed that the government has extended no offer to the union since meeting with Premier Dominic Perrottet, who has been on paternity leave since February. 

The premier said following last month's strike he hoped "we can provide a resolution" but asserted that the issues are complex, adding that Health Minister Brad Hazzard was in "constant dialogue" with the unions.

Nurses are planning a series of rallies on Thursday, including in Sydney, Albury, Bathurst, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Goulburn, Newcastle, Orange, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga and Wollongong. The association said life-preserving services will be maintained at all public hospitals throughout the day. 

The planned strike comes after some NSW paramedics took industrial action on Tuesday with similar demands for improved resources and staffing.

On Monday, the paramedics union shared photos of ambulances queuing outside the hospitals including Royal Prince Alfred, Wollongong, Wyong, John Hunter, Concord and others, waiting to offload patients at emergency departments.