Nurses fight for better patient safety in country hospitals

Nurses from Kurri Hospital took part in a state-wide strike last Wednesday (July 24) as part of an ongoing fight for better patient safety.

Sue Gerrish and Brenda Hughes, representing Kurri members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NMA), held their protest on Northcote Street and said that they were simply standing up for the rights of their patients.

The NSW Nurse and Midwives Association have accused Premier Barry O’Farrell of failing to provide guaranteed, safe nurse staffing levels in all public hospitals, clinical units and community health services as well as equal nurse-to-patient ratios across the state.

Almost 3000 nurses gathered at Sydney Olympic Park as part of the strike, while many more in remote towns attended local rallies and activities in support of the NSWNMA claim.

Ms. Hughes said that the patients of country hospitals deserved the same level of care as those in the city.

“Nurses care about the safety of their patients and we’ve got to stand up for them,” she said. 

“We don’t have a lot of ways of going about such action –we have people’s lives in our hands.

“Why should they get less care than someone living in the city?”

Union secretary, Gavin Gaylard, said that NSW Government couldn’t ignore their claims any longer.

“For bigger hospitals we see a lot more acute ratios,” he said.

“But people don’t realise that anything that goes to John Hunter, we can also see here (Kurri) – but we have to deal with a lot less staff.

“We need to raise awareness that rural hospitals aren’t getting the same level of care that the big hospitals are getting.”

Mr. Gaylard explained that the current ratios are one nurse for every four patients, but that they are often dealing with five and even six patients to one nurse.

Following Wednesday’s Sydney meeting, the NSWNMA vowed to escalate their community and workplace campaign and aim to collect 100,000 petition signatures for presentation for an action on September 17.

STRIKE: Pictured in Northcote Street, Kurri last week is nurses Brenda Hughes (left) and Sue Gerrish with union secretary Gavin Gaylard, protesting for better patient care.

STRIKE: Pictured in Northcote Street, Kurri last week is nurses Brenda Hughes (left) and Sue Gerrish with union secretary Gavin Gaylard, protesting for better patient care.

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