MILTON-Ulladulla nurses rallied alongside their colleagues from throughout the Shoalhaven and Illawarra at a protest held in Bomaderry last week.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Milton-Ulladulla branch delegate Robyn Bean said 22 nurses attended the rally calling for fairer patient care in regional hospitals.
She said local nurses would “never give up” on their campaign for increased nurse to patient ratios in hospitals including Milton-Ulladulla where at times one nurse could care for up to 12 patients.
Milton-Ulladulla Hospital operated with minimal staffing levels on Wednesday as nurses demanded one nurse for every three patients in hospital emergency departments and general children's wards, one nurse for every four patients in general medical, surgical and acute inpatient mental health wards, and one nurse for every single patient in intensive care units.
Mrs Bean said staffing levels needed to be equal across all hospitals.
She said under current arrangements, a patient with pneumonia would receive five hours of nursing care per day when admitted to Milton-Ulladulla Hospital, compared to six hours of care at Royal Prince Alfred.
"If you have pneumonia in Milton or Sydney, you should be entitled to the same care," Mrs Bean said.
“It’s about equity for everybody, no matter where they live.”
The nurses union is working on gathering 100,000 petition signatures in support of the ratios, to be presented to State Parliament next month.
Mrs Bean said the Milton-Ulladulla community, as well as patients and their families, had supported the recent strike action and had been willing to sign the petition.
She said nurses would not give up and would be hitting the streets and knocking on doors collecting more signatures.
“It took nurses in Victoria 10 years to bring about this change, so I hope it doesn’t take us that long.
“Last week’s meeting was very positive and I think we’re getting the message out there.
“We are not going to walk away from this, in fact we are going to up the ante and put other strategies in place to keep pressuring the state government.”
Mrs Bean will represent Milton-Ulladulla and the union’s state conference in Sydney next week.