NURSES were striking in the Town Square on Thursday, March 31st.
As they stood there, holding their banners, crying out for ratios that save lives and reminding people that nurses are essential, not expendable, cars drove by beeping their horns in support.
“The government didn’t bat an eyelid when we struck back in February so we are doing 24-hour strike trying to get our voices heard by the government,” said Nurses Union Branch Secretary Breeanna Bragga.
Ms Bragga said that the union is seeking the same conditions that already apply in the other Australian States.
One nurse per three patients in the emergency department and four patients per nurse in all other departments is the standard ratios supported widely by research and implemented in other states.
Ms Bragga said that at times the nurse ratio at the hospital could reach 12 patients per nurse in the emergency department.
“Nurse are overworked, we are doing double shifts and overtime and then they come back the next morning to do it all over again.
That causes burnout, exhaustion and fatigue, which then leads to mistakes, things being missed, nurses are doing so much we are missing out when patients start deteriorating’”
She explained the strain on nurses becomes greater as they feel they are failing in the job.
“It hangs over your head.
You will wake up at 2am in the morning and go, ‘I forgot to do this or I forgot to do that,’ which further causes anxiety about going to work every day knowing you’re not able to uphold the standard of care you want to,” she said.
As with other state organisations striking for better conditions, the Nurses Union action has been contested by the Industrial Relations Commission, Ms Bragga said.
Chief Executive Officer for Far West Local Health District Umit Agus said, “We support their democratic right to strike.
The only significant impact we had was cancelling elective orthopaedic surgery.
We have the capacity to be able to cover the gaps, so there is no real risk to the community as a result of the strike.”