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Bourke nurses strike for better patient care

Members of the Bourke branch of the Nurses and Midwives Association outside Bourke Hospital on Tuesday asking for better resources to care for sick and aged patients and for better security at the Health Service. Speakers Nicole Green is top right and Rachel Ianni – bottom left. PHOTO TWH

by Layton Holley

Nurses from Bourke Health Service joined the statewide strike across NSW on Tuesday, gathering outside the hospital.

They say that, in the western region and in remote communities like Bourke, health budget cuts have left the service understaffed and underpaid.

Nicole Green, a member of the Bourke branch of the Nurses Union who has worked at the Bourke hospital for 17 years, said that the last few years have been a lot worse, and now with the staffing levels, it’s never been this bad.

“We need better nurse-to-patient ratios to keep our patients safe. On night shift we have only two nurses on duty to staff the whole hospital, and if you have a trauma patient come into emergency ward or someone who is very sick, your two nurses are gone. So, who’s watching the rest of the hospital?”

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the strike was a culmination of ten years of inaction by the government and its refusal to negotiate with nurses and midwives to secure safe staffing on each shift in every hospital.

“With nurses and midwives out here in Bourke,” Nurse’s Association Member, Rachel Ianni, of Bourke Health Service said, “we need more staff, we need an extra pay rise to make it worthwhile to work out here”.

“And it needs to be a safe environment, especially given the latest things that have happened with the staff here, with the violence towards them. It’s just not on, and it turns people away.”

“With the latest crime spree in Bourke, which has targeted people working in the health sector, it has become increasingly difficult to get trained medical staff to come to Bourke – which will ultimately lead to sick, older people being unable to get the care they need.

“We need people in the community to understand that it’s not a safe place to work,” Rachel said. “When people act like that, we cannot do our jobs.

“And so the people who are suffering are our elderly. They are the elders of our community, and they deserve better. They put their loved ones in here to ensure that they get care, but right now, they are not getting the care that they need and deserve.”

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