NSW nurses accept pay offer

Tweed nurses Susan Anderson, Janelle Irvine, Charmaine Millar.
Tweed nurses Susan Anderson, Janelle Irvine, Charmaine Millar. John Gass

AFTER protest rallies and bed closures, the New South Wales Nurses Association members at public hospitals and community health services around the state have voted to accept a State Government pay and staffing offer.

The union’s Tweed Heads branch voted to accept the offer which includes a 9.7% pay rise over three years, 1400 extra nurses and the principle of ratios progressed.

The pay rise will provide the majority of full-time registered nurses and midwives, RN Year 8, with a weekly rise of $129 by July 1, 2012.

Full-time, experienced enrolled nurses will receive an increase of nearly $90. per week and the first 3.9 % of the pay rise will be backdated to July 1, 2010.

The new award also includes a major reform of staffing arrangements in public hospitals, which will attempt to improve patient care and reduce nursing and midwifery workloads.

Tweed Heads branch president Zoe Guinea said the outcome was not all Tweed nurses had hoped for.

“Our vote was yes, but it is not exactly what we wanted, but it will have to be good enough,” Ms Guinea said.

“It was not a good outcome for regional or community nurses.

“The agreement includes a pay rise, but that was never what we were after. This was always about providing better patient care by improving nurse-to-patient ratios.”

Ms Guinea said NSW hospitals have been placed into categories in order to determine how many extra nursing hours they receive.

“Tweed Hospital has been classified as a B group hospital which means we will receive 5.5 hours per patient day.

It’s a complicated system,” Ms Guinea said.

“We thought this was the best offer we would get, but it is a long way short of what we wanted.

“Murwillumbah District Hospital nurses voted to not accept the offer.”

At the close of voting on Monday night the final vote for the pay-and-conditions offer was 90% in favour of accepting the State Governments offer.

Staffing standards in operating theatres will also be updated with a guaranteed minimum of two nurses, plus an anaesthetic nurse, in each theatre.

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