Nurses rallied outside The Tweed Hospital yesterday to protest huge budget cuts and job losses.
Nurses rallied outside The Tweed Hospital yesterday to protest huge budget cuts and job losses. Blainey Woodham

Nurses take a stand

A RALLY at The Tweed Hospital yesterday was told nurses’ morale had been shot to all-time lows this year because of huge staff cuts and over-work.

About 50 people at the New South Wales Nurses Association (NSWNA) rally were told that severe budgets cuts to the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) was placing staff and patients at risk.

Judith Kaejda, assistant general secretary of the association, said 230 positions had already been cut from NCAHS and there were another 170 to go.

She said nurses would not stand by as the health service was “systematically dismantled” by NCAHS Chief Executive Chris Crawford and State Government treasurer Eric Roozendaal.

She said the NCAHS was now entering “seriously dangerous territory”.

“How do they expect nurses to turn up to work each day and deliver patient care with less and less resources,” she said.

“It won’t be long until there are no staff left ... but the budget bottom line will look very pretty indeed.

“I have never, ever, ever seen nurses’ morale so low.”

Ms Kaejda said Mr Crawford was telling the community health services were remaining unchanged, but really they were starting to seriously unravel.

Much of the cuts have been felt by community health nurses, who NCAHS management do not consider “front-line” life savers.

Rhonda Allen, from Murwillumbah community health said many people had been prevented from taking their own lives and the service played a key rolein prevention and early detection ofillness.

“‘We do not save lives’, that is what I was told. I dispute that,” she said.

The rally was told nurses were overworked without competent ongoing education, and when a person resigned they were not replaced.

Ms Allen said there was two hours of documentation for nurses to completeevery day.

“We are sinking ever-deeper into a growing bureaucracy.”

The rally was part of a simultaneous action across the North Coast, with protests also held at Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Lismore.



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