Amid its continued battle for safer staffing levels, for the first time in eight years NSW Nurses and Midwives Association's branches unanimously rejected the NSW Government's pay offer, rejecting the marginal rise proposed as 'pitiful' and 'insulting'.
A resounding majority of public sector nurses and midwives across the state, including the Central West, voted not to accept a proposed 1.04 per cent pay rise, with the decision conveyed to NSW Health officials on Monday morning.
The offer fell well short of the 4.7 per cent increase the union sought earlier in the year, with the NSWNMA also furiously claiming the government ignored its plea for safer staffing levels to be mandated through nurse-to-patient ratios.
What more do they have to do in order for their voices to be heard by this government?NSW Nurses and Midwives Association general secretary Brett Holmes
In an ongoing battle, the rejection came just days after NSWNMA members from Orange, Canowindra and Tullamore met with state MP Phil Donato to discuss the issue, with the Member for Orange pledging to continue raising the issue in parliament.
NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes said members felt the government's offer showed a 'complete disregard' for the work they do every day, let alone just during the pandemic, to keep essential services running.
"The number one priority of our members has always been to maintain safe patient care and deliver the best possible health outcomes. What more do they have to do in order for their voices to be heard by this government?" said Mr Holmes.
"This offer simply isn't good enough. Nurses and midwives across the state have done so much this past year. Understandably, they feel more than taken for granted. They're deeply insulted.
"To not consider any improvements to their working conditions or discuss measures that would increase patient safety inside our public hospitals and health facilities is quite frankly, reckless."
Mr Holmes asked 'what is the NSW Government so afraid of?' when comparing the state's nursing situation to Victoria and Queensland's, where nurse-to-patient ratios were legislated in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
"We were willing to sit across the table and will continue to outline the overwhelming evidence from Queensland and Victoria," he said.
"Our public health system is bursting at the seams and increased pressure is being piled onto health workers year after year.
"The government knows we've got a staffing crisis in our hospitals and the failure to adopt shift-by-shift ratios is leading more nurses and midwives to leave these professions.
"Seeking safe staffing through shift-by-shift ratios and fair pay is not excessive. It's what NSW needs and would help the workforce feel much more valued than it currently does."
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The NSWNMA confirmed it was continuing to canvass all options available in response to current negotiations with NSW Health, which come after the state government released its review of hospital security earlier this year.
The union welcomed that review, but immediately outlined concerns the 107 recommendations put forward in the review would 'not be enough', specifically lamenting the omission of nurse-to-patient ratios, particularly in regional hospitals and multi-purpose services.
Job targets committed to by the government at the last election saw Gladys Berejiklian's administration back a pledge to hire 380 new health care workers, including 271 nurses and midwives for the Western NSW Local Health District.
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