OUR SAY: Awards a chance to acknowledge nurses as our hospital’s greatest asset

AWARDS for nursing care announced at Orange hospital on Wednesday are a timely reminder that the greatest asset any health service has are its staff.

At a time when the Western NSW Local Health District is running a ruler over the budget and looking at where it allocates staff,and at what cost, the community should be reassured that Orange has some of the very best.

Like many who have chosen careers in public service, nurses have taken a path where the rewards are measured by the level of job satisfaction as much as the size of the salary.

All wage earners know that in the current climate pay increases are hard to come by and in many professions, nursing included, workloads are increasing, regardless of pay rates.

This week the NSW Court of Appeal has overturned a decision to exclude superannuation from a 2013 wage increase for nurses and other public servants, effectively reducing their pay rise from 2.5 per cent to 2.27 per cent.

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In addition, shifts have been reduced at some western NSW hospitals identified as overstaffed and the nurses’ union is waiting to see if and where those lost shifts will be reallocated.

But for those who attended Wednesday’s nursing awards it was a chance to put industrial concerns to one side and celebrate something that management and staff do agree on, committed nurses make for great nursing care.

Guests at the awards would have heard many stories of just how both individual and team efforts produced great outcomes for some critically ill people.

The local health district and Orange hospital have much to be proud of and at the top of the list are the staff. Recognising levels of nursing expertise and devotion to patients must be a rewarding thing for those charged with leading staff, but at the back of their minds must be concerns that retaining those staff is likely to get tougher.

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