In an average 12-hour-shift at Orange hospital's emergency department, nurses like Alan Weatherburn are single-handedly looking after up to 30 patients at once.
"It can be very stressful and overwhelming," he said. "It burns you out."
His situation is far from unique - in fact, according to the NSW Nurses and Mid-wives Association (NSWNMA), every nurse and mid-wife in every department at every hospital across the Central West and the state is in exactly the same position.
It's why on Friday morning, nurses used their unpaid half-hour lunchbreaks to stand at the intersection of Forest Road and two of Orange's hospitals to demand mandated nurse-to-patient ratios.
Another nurse who was in attendance at the rally said she didn't even get a half-hour break during her ten-hour shift in the rehabilitation unit. That morning, prior to the rally, she alone had had nine patients.
The Orange "own-time" rally was among the many held around the state in recent weeks by fed-up and exhausted nurses and mid-wives wanting NSW to implement nurse-to-patient ratios like Victoria and Queensland.
Rally organiser Tracey Coyte from the NSWNMA said nurses were so overloaded they didn't even have time to go to the toilet.
Others finished their shifts in tears, ravished by guilt when they couldn't give patients the care they "needed and deserved".
"It's been proven that patients have poorer health outcomes and extended lengths of stay when they cannot and do not receive the care that they need," she said.
"When nurses and midwives are outside [the hospital] there's something really wrong because nurses and midwives don't walk out."
Also in attendance at Friday's rally was Orange MP Phil Donato.
"When nurses start complaining, government should really be listening but they've been pretty arrogant and pig-headed about it," Mr Donato said.
"[They're] not prepared to spend the money - and that's what it comes down to, ultimately."
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