The title to this post is just how I feel. Not only myself, but many of my colleagues feel this way too. If any of my readers have been keeping up with Victorian news, you would know that the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) Victorian branch have been duelling with Fair Work Australia (FWA) and Premier Ted Baillieu as well as the Victorian Health Minister David Davis. We have had meetings, a massive rally in the CBD last week, and will have another meeting this week too. It is the old story again and again... the powers that be want to increase productivity (increase nurse's workload) yet save money (put people's lives at risk... and have added stressors to nurses which will see mass exodus of trained professionals).
I remember this all too well from the 1980's. I was a student at High School then. I knew I wanted to be a nurse, my best friend's Mum was a charge nurse then, a midwife. Nurses fought long and hard with rolling strikes, bed closures, and, no pay, and got their message across loud and clear. The Government of the time were putting nurses, some of them who were senior nurses with more than 20yrs experience, at the lowest end of the pay spectrum.. which meant pay cuts. This in addition to increasing workloads. A recipe for disaster! Irene Bolger was the head of the ANF and the union grew by the hundreds every time the Health minister David White opened his mouth. Placards read, "‘Overworked nurses: under-cared-for patients’"
So what is it we are asking for?
Well, we want the Ted Baillieu Government to stop this unsound idea of abolishing minimum nurse/midwife patient ratios (at the moment it is 1 nurse to 4 patients) and wanting to replace us with health assistants. Stop the notion of bringing in split shifts for nurses, it just cannot be done in the health care setting. We need more nurses and midwives in Emergency Departments, Regional Trauma Services, Palliative Care, Rehabilitation Units, Birthing Suites, Day Oncology Units, Aged Care and Community Mental Health Services. In most cases, we are only asking for one extra nurse per shift in each area.
Victoria's hospitals are stretched beyond capacity as it is. Patients already face long delays, ambulances are regularly ramped at the emergency departments and demand is increasing. It does compromise patient care and places unsafe pressure upon nurses, midwives and mental health nurses.
For the record, we, in Victoria, do not have a nurse/midwife shortage. More than 500 Victorian graduate nurses and midwives ready to start work next year have missed out on a graduate year job. Our Government should be working to retain and recruit nurses and midwives to meet the increased demand. If it cannot come to the party with ANF negotiations, then there will be a new nurse/midwife shortage... this in the ONLY state that does not have a shortage.
My colleagues and I are taking action to improve the public access to the health system and in the expert care we can provide for them. I refuse to go back to nursing more than 4 patients in an acute setting. It is just that dangerous. I would not want to be nursed that way, and neither should you.
I will be there at the next ANF meeting. Festival Hall Wednesday 30th November 2011 at 2pm. Many of my colleagues will too. It is just that important.