Nurses vow to fight for ratios

NURSES say there has been no real progress in their push for improved nursing ratios, but they will continue their campaign fight.

In Tamworth, nurses will continue to seek public support for a petition to have the issue debated in state parliament.

They’ve managed to get 2000 local signatures on a 13,000 state-wide petition – but they are out to add to that total.

The declaration to continue the campaign comes in the wake of the association’s annual conference last week.

Tamworth assistant branch secretary Jill Telfer was one of five nurses from Tamworth who travelled to Sydney for it.

She said Health Minister Jillian Skinner did speak to the conference, but nothing had progressed by way of negotiations with the government.

Miss Telfer said the union had no plans for further industrial action – nurses across the state went on strike last month – but would focus on collecting signatures for its petition on the issue in the lead-up to an international day of action for nurses on September 17.

The union has been pushing for a new workplace agreement that would see minimum nursing ratios introduced in such units as the 

emergency department, children’s wards and the intensive care unit, the same ratios applied in country hospitals as city hospitals, and a 2.5 pay rise each year for two years.

The NSW government has responded with an offer for a 2.5 per cent pay rise that would absorb increases in employer superannuation contributions.

Miss Telfer said residents of the Tamworth area had been especially supportive of the nurses’ campaign, with 2000 of the 13,000 signatures collected so far from this region.

While 10,000 were required to have the issue debated in state parliament, Miss Telfer said the union wanted to collect as many as it could to highlight its importance across the state.

The conference also discussed the privatisation of health services, sparked by a proposed new privately-operated hospital in Sydney that will see Manly hospital close and beds at Mona Vale hospital reduced.

Miss Telfer said this would reduce the number of public beds and if this model was repeated across the state, there would be fewer beds available to public patients.

The conference also looked at the US healthcare model, under which facilities are mostly owned and operated privately.

“Australia has a good healthcare system; we’d be loath to go down that sort of route,” Miss Telfer said.

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