Nurses protest on Wharf street in Coolangatta.
Nurses protest on Wharf street in Coolangatta. Blainey Woodham

Nurses march for better nurse to patient ratios

MORE than 100 nurses from Tweed Hospital, Murwillumbah Hospital and Community Health Services marched down Wharf St during a two hour-long strike this morning.

They want better nurse to patient ratios to improve care and take pressure off.

Hospital in home clinical nurse specialist Kristin Ryan-Agnew said more nurses weren't just needed, they were critically needed.

"It's an impossible workload for one nurse," she said.

Ms Ryan-Agnew is based in the Tweed but covers the Tallebudgera to Pottsville area for in home care.

She works alone for seven days, then has seven days off while her colleague works alone for seven days straight.

When one of the two nurses wants to take leave casual staff is called in to fill the void.

The working nurse is expected to treat at least six patients throughout the day in the vast area they cover, but realistically the nurses will see up to eight sick patients.

If there were more community nurses who could treat people in their homes the hospitals would be free to put resources where they were more needed.

"The problem is we live in an incredibly aging area," she said.

"There is a need here for more nurses, especially nurses in the community."

As a community nurse Ms Ryan-Agnew aims to keep patients out of hospital and in their homes.

She will help with dressings, drips, medication and a whole range of other patient care needs.

She said if there were more community nurses who could treat people in their homes the hospitals would be free to put resources where they were more needed.

"The sad thing is we're going to lose quality, highly trained people," she said.

She said some nurses would start at the crack of dawn and not finish until well into the night due to lack of resources.

"We're just trying to get the best possible care for people in their home," she said.

"People don't realise how much work is involved to do this.

"It's becoming an impossible job."

Community mental health nurse Louise Oshea said more nurses were needed now.

"I work with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in this community," she said.

"We need a lot more support and nurses to service his area."

Ms Oshea said people in need in the Tweed were waiting four to six months for a nurse to be available to help them in their home.

Tweed Hospital ward nurse Siobhan Mills said it was important for people to understand the strike was not about money.

Nurses protest on Wharf street in Coolangatta.
Nurses protest on Wharf street in Coolangatta. Blainey Woodham

"It's about getting the public on-side and letting them know what it's really like," she said.

"This strike is for better patient care.

"We would never jeopardise a patient's safety during a strike."

During the strike life-preserving services were maintained in all hospitals and community health services across the state.

The nurses watched live web casts of the strike direct from Sydney.

They hope the government comes to the table and meets their demands.

The strike was organised by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA).



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