The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) held talks with the NSW government on Wednesday, April 6 about the need for staffing improvements and better pay for nurses and midwives.

Off the back of last Thursday’s second statewide strike, the NSWNMA met with Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Finance Minister Damien Tudehope to discuss the widespread staffing crisis gripping the public health system.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, welcomed the discussions and reiterated the need for the NSW government to address short staffing issues throughout metropolitan and regional health facilities.

“We had the opportunity to discuss the dire staffing crisis in our public hospitals, as well as the extraordinary lengths nurses and midwives are having to go to maintaining health services,” said Mr Holmes.

“There is an awareness by the government that we need more nurses and midwives to deliver safe patient care and how unsustainable the current working conditions are, particularly for the future.

“We appreciate the pandemic has created challenges for the health system, but it has exposed a myriad of issues, including the need for our nursing and midwifery workforce to be enhanced beyond its normal annual growth.

“It took a huge amount of courage for our members to participate in last week’s 24-hour statewide strike. They were angry their ongoing pleas for help and support had been ignored.

“We look forward to continuing meaningful discussions with the government to address the issues our members have raised repeatedly.”

Mr Holmes said the NSWNMA would continue campaigning for shift-by-shift nurse-to-patient ratios, better maternity staffing, improvements in regional health services and fair pay.

Staff from the Yass District Hospital joined the Goulburn rally on Thursday morning who marched 150 strong in front of Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman’s office.

A smaller group of local nurses returned to town for a rally at Coronation Park. John Warner, who learned about the strike while receiving treatment at the Yass Hospital, lent his dulcet tones to the rally serenading nurses ‘Thanks? No thanks!’.

The catchy tune’s chorus described the outpouring of empty “Thanks” throughout the pandemic despite no extra support despite hospital staff’s increased workloads:

“Thanks are not enough, thanks don’t pay my rent,

Thanks don’t fill the fridge when my weekly pay is spent

Thanks don’t stop the shifts, thanks don’t end the strain,

Thanks don’t stop to flashbacks replaying in my brain

And all I want to do is sleep, sleep, sleep, all I want to do is sleep”

Meanwhile, the NSWNMA has been summonsed to the Supreme Court next week for breaching orders issued by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission in relation to strike actions held on February 15 and March 31.

Although only the union is susceptible to fines for holding the strike, not individual members, nurses and midwives who chose to strike still lose a day’s pay.

The NSWNMA maintains the recent industrial actions were necessary to advocate for safe patient care and for the well-being of a burnout nursing and midwifery workforce across NSW.