Locally and across the state nurses, and paramedics are struggling in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as they are being asked to do double shifts and manage effectively in health system that is struggling to cope. This has led to an increasing number of nurses and paramedics resigning in recent weeks say The Greens.
Local Federal Greens candidate Mandy Nolan points out that ‘The Northern Rivers has been hit particularly hard, with the region experiencing the state’s highest rate of covid per capita in the country.
‘Tweed Hospital has had 18 staff resign since December representing 10 per cent of its workforce, while in Byron Bay the Nurses and Midwives Association has said the situation is “almost untenable” with burnt-out nurses resigning.’
To address the crisis The Greens have written to the NSW Premier and proposed that the NSW state Government introduce ‘NurseKeeper’ and have started an online petition so you can show your support for the proposal.
‘Our public hospitals are in a state of emergency and it’s not because of the number of patients, it’s because there’s not enough nurses to care for them,’ said Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP and health spokesperson.
‘Senior health staff are quitting in droves and thousands of nurses have been furloughed due to Covid. If the Government does not act fast to retain nurses and paramedics then mass resignations could see our whole healthcare system come undone.
‘We are calling on the NSW government to immediately introduce NurseKeeper, a plan to retain and reward nurses and paramedics during this emergency.’
The proposal includes:
- an immediate bonus of $5,000 to all nurses and paramedics working in the public health system in NSW to act as an incentive to stay for those currently considering resigning from the profession
- a ‘pandemic payment’ of at least $60 per shift, in line with the initiative taken by the Victorian Government.
- a further $5,000 in 12 months as an additional retention measure and gesture of gratitude
Ms Nolan says that living in a border community highlights the impacts of the currently frozen wages and lack of working conditions, such as no patient ratios that exist in other states, for frontline workers in NSW.
‘We rely on a regional hospital like Tweed yet just over the border there are better conditions in Queensland and more affordable living. We have got to stop saying “thank you” to our frontline staff and start pushing for real wage reform. That is a conversation that is essential for nurses, paramedics, and midwives,’ she told The Echo.
‘You can’t keep saying that we have capacity in the health system when that capacity is based on underpaying and overworking health workers.’
‘This Government has let this state slip into a completely avoidable public health disaster allowing our public hospitals to become completely overrun and dysfunctional,’ said Ms Faehrmann.
‘Nurses are working in horrific conditions, being pressured to work 18-hour shifts for days in a row caring for more patients than they can handle. This is diabolical and we haven’t even hit the peak of this outbreak.’
The NurseKeeper petition is now at over 10,000 signatures and Ms Nolan is running an online community forum this Sunday at 6.30pm to discuss the issues facing nurses and paramedics in the region and across the state.
Tweed paramedic and union delegate Ben Fischer and Kristin Ryan-Agnew from the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association will join Ms Nolan with NSW Greens Health Spokesperson, Cate Faehrmann MP for the forum.
‘We can’t lose any more nurses and paramedics,’ says Ms Nolan.
‘The one thing we can do is pay them what they are worth. It should be fair and equitable pay and conditions for our nurses and paramedics here in NSW.’
Register here for online Community Forum