NURSES have been overworked and under-appreciated for far too long, according to the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA).
And, union members hosted a rally outside Muswellbrook District Hospital to protest their conditions.
On Thursday, more than a dozen staff gathered to demand better nurse-to-patient ratios from the government.
They are seeking 1-to-3 in the emergency department and 1-to-4 on the floor to ensure patient safety.
NSWNMA Muswellbrook president Adrian King said it was an important issue to consider ahead of the state election.
“I hope people think about this when they vote,” he told the Chronicle.
“And, next time they're sitting in an emergency department wondering what's taking so long, they’ll know there's a workload issue.”
They invited several Upper Hunter candidates to the rally to hear their position on the topic ahead of next month’s election and Mr King said he was pleased with the promises they received.
“I’m happy, having the candidates come and talk to the nurses directly instead of having to go through several intermediates has been a real boost,” he explained.
“The nurses can see now for themselves who's out here and who's supporting them on their issues, so I think it went really well.”
It was Country Labor candidate Melanie Dagg and Fishers, Shooters and Farmers (FSF) Party pre-select Lee Watts who were in attendance, and both flagged their intention to ensure conditions improve under their governance.
“I’m here to throw my support behind NSWNMA,” Mrs Dagg said.
“Labor has listened to them, listened to their concerns and said it will introduce nurse-to-patient ratios.
“We’ll introduce them in the city as well as in regional hospitals, such as Muswellbrook.
“Nurses are under increasing pressure and stress, they've got a horrible workload and they need to be supported.”
Mrs Watts was also backing a change and said it was an issue she had been following for a long time.
“Four years ago I stood with NSW nurses and supported the need for improved ratios for nurses," she added.
"[Today] I stood with them again supporting them, because the NSW Government has done nothing to improve the environment nurses work in.
“Whatever promises come out about this ratio and about the funding of the extra nurses, which are indeed needed, we will be able to push for that to happen.
"We will be knocking on the door of Labor for its commitment and making sure they’re accountable – and ensuring it comes through.”
With promises becoming more common by the day as March 23 approaches, the cynics will be wary of such a large commitment.
But, if it does eventuate it would be a huge positive for health professionals and, of course, patients across the state.