|Issue No. 227
|02 July 2004
A Place To Call Home
Interview: Power and the Passion
Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Housing: Home Truths
International: Boycott Busters
Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Review: Chewing the Fat
Poetry: Dear John
The Locker Room
Nurses Telegraph Fight Back
They stopped work for three hours this week to appeal, over the mediaï¿½s head, to Western Sydney people spooked by months of negative publicity.
Nurses took fliers and messages of professionalism into shopping centres, including Macquarrie Square, where a workmate in uniform was recently spat on.
Their two-pronged message also demanded that politicians, from both sides of the NSW parliament, stop using them as political footballs.
The action, supported by the NSW Nurses Association, followed months of negative publicity for the western Sydney facilities, including claims that patients had been "left to die like dogs" by nurses who didn't care.
One senior nurse said more drastic action would be contemplated if colleagues did not receive the resources and support they needed.
Unable to be identified, because of departmental regulations, she said 12 months of negative publicity had "absolutely devastated" workmates.
She said the campaign against Campbelltown and Campden had wrongly singled out health professionals trying to battle gross under-resourcing and under-staffing in critical positions.
The result had been threats and insults from patients; warnings from management of vigilante assaults; abuse in local malls and shopping centres; and, worst of all, patients delaying visits until their situations had worsened dramatically.
"The impression that nurses don't care couldn't be further from the truth," she told Workers Online. "We have very professional people at these hospitals trying to provide the best possible service to local people.
"Unfortunately, the publicity means the public has lost faith and the Government hasn't backed us. It gets very difficult when nurses have to go home and defend themselves to their own families.
"Our nurses have been accused of leaving patients to die like dogs but a recent study has shown that Campden and Campbelltown have a better record on adverse outcomes than comparable hospitals.
"We have been getting a raw deal and health services have suffered because of it.
"Yes, we did have a woman die in our waiting room but only because there was no bed available. That is an issue of resources."
The nurse said that official figures showed her hospital was on Code Red or Code Orange for 73 percent of May. Code Orange means the facility is on capacity and Red indicates no beds are available - "we are overwhelmed".
On any given day in May, her hospital had an average of 10 patients waiting in emergency for beds in the ward. At times, that figure went up to 22.
State Government has poured an extra $7 million into hospitals and western Sydney nurses say they will give new administrators a chance the situation around.
But they warn, remedial work will be difficult, because the publicity has made it "extremely difficult" to attract key clinicians to their hospitals.
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